Due to turn 43 on July 24 and playing on two troublesome knees, Bonds will need plenty of care. Bochy is prepared to provide that, having gained experience with aging superstars by managing Tony Gwynn at the end of his Hall of Fame career."I have to rely on the training staff here to see where we are with Barry, really, on a daily basis," he said. "I certainly don't want to overdo it with Barry. You get to a point of diminishing returns." Barry Zito's altered pitching delivery, which mushroomed into a national story, enabled Bochy to warm up for the Bonds fuss. Bochy has calmly repeated that the left-hander has the right to experiment as he sees fit, provided he doesn't endanger his $126 million arm. Asked whether he had urged Zito to revert to his customary form, which the pitcher did on Saturday, Bochy replied, "Absolutely not at all." Bochy has balanced command with delegation of duty. He has conducted many of the PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) drills, making them anything but routine with his mere presence. On Saturday, however, coaches assumed more of the load. And pitchers have sensed that pitching coach Dave Righetti is being given more autonomy. Said Flannery, "'Boch' comes from a military family, so he's a full chain-of-command guy. If you're in charge of baserunning and somebody messes up on the bases, he comes to you. Same way with pitching. Whatever you've been hired to do, that's what you're in charge of, and it's great. You feel responsibility and feel like you can say whatever you have to say to get things done, because you're going to have to answer to him in the end." Flannery added that Bochy approaches players in similar fashion. "He manages a lot when the games aren't going on," he said. "He manages in the backs of airplanes. He'll call guys in his office when he needs to talk to them and they will know, if they don't know already, that you don't mistake kindness for weakness." Bochy may not know it, but the National League West titles he won with the Padres in the previous two seasons already have given him a label among players. "He's a winner," left-hander Steve Kline said. "It's like taking a veteran off a World Series team. We took a manager off a team that's been in the playoffs the last two years."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less