SAN FRANCISCO -- Breaking his long association with the Giants, at least for now, Barry Bonds received the club's blessing Friday as he accepted a position as hitting coach with the Miami Marlins.
Bonds' commitment is a major step beyond the occasional appearances he made at Spring Training and at AT&T Park for the Giants since 2007, when management opted not to renew his contract. The all-time home run leader has been friends with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for years, hastening the process that led to Friday's announcement.
Bonds said the Giants did not offer him a full-time position.
"This is the only opportunity that was presented to me," he said during a conference call with reporters.
Giants president Larry Baer clarified that, in previous years, Bonds was offered positions such as the one his godfather, Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays, occupies -- a general role that involved speaking to Minor Leaguers and select groups, making occasional appearances and representing the organization basically by exuding the aura of being one of the game's most legendary figures.
"Barry will always be a Giant," Baer said. "We wish him well. We're excited that he's back in the Major Leagues."
Bonds echoed Baer, insisting he felt no rancor.
"I just want to let San Francisco know that I love them a lot," said Bonds, who repeated his undying love for the city four times. "This is my home. This is where I'm from. But this is the opportunity that came up for me."
Bonds forged his relationship with Bay Area fans while spending 15 of his 22 Major League seasons with San Francisco (1993-2007) and hitting 586 of his 762 home runs for the club. The career .298 hitter won five Most Valuable Player Awards and nine Silver Slugger Awards with San Francisco.
Several factors may have prevented the Giants from adding Bonds to their Major League staff first.
The lingering cloud of performance-enhancing drug use continued to envelop Bonds after he ceased playing. Legally, that cloud lifted in August, when his conviction of obstructing justice during a government probe into steroid use was overturned by a U.S. appeals court.
Moreover, Bonds was perceived as being unwilling to sustain the time commitment that is expected of coaches. Most are likely to arrive at the ballpark at noon for a 7:05 p.m. game.
Bonds insisted he would follow the example of his father, Bobby, who coached for the Giants from 1993-96, and Mays, who continues to impart advice behind the scenes to any player who asked.
"The only way that I'm going to be able to do this, or to give the information that I have in my brain is, I have to be in the trenches with [Marlins hitters]," Bonds said. "That's what my dad did. That's what Willie did. I feel that I need to be in the trenches with them to get their attention. ... With me being there day in and day out, I think I bring a lot to the table."