JUPITER, Fla. -- Even though Dusty Baker managed Barry Bonds for 10 seasons in San Francisco from 1993-2002, he never considered Bonds as a future hitting coach, although he knew he had the ability.
Fast forward 14 years, and there they were, embracing each other on the field prior to the Friday afternoon's Grapefruit League game between the Nationals and Marlins. Both back in baseball again after time away from the game -- Baker in his first season as Washington's manager and Bonds as Miami's hitting coach -- preparing for their first of many meetings in opposite dugouts.
"Baseball needs it, minds like Barry's," Baker said. "I just wish he wasn't in our division. Barry sees things most people don't see."
Perhaps even a year ago, Friday's reunion would have been difficult to imagine.
Bonds had been away from baseball since 2007, his last season as a player, before the Marlins named him hitting coach in December. Baker was dismissed as the Reds' manager in 2013, and was unsure if he would receive another shot at managing before he was hired by the Nationals in November. And it's unclear beyond this year how many more opportunities like Friday will take place. Bonds signed a one-year deal with Miami, while Baker is on a two-year contract and almost certainly his ultimate managerial job.
That Baker never thought of Bonds as a future coach reminded him of himself in a way. While he was playing, Baker never thought of himself as a future manager.
"For some people, that's their life-long destination and goal, but it wasn't his, and it wasn't mine either," Baker said. "That was the last thing on our minds probably.
"But he can be as good as he wants to be."
Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.