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Bonds' hitting advice well-received by Giants

Home run king likes outfielders' power; Crawford benefits from tips

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds' coaching gig is wearing him out. But his presence has energized the Giants.

"Man, I'm tired, more tired than when I was playing," Bonds told reporters at the Giants' Scottsdale Stadium complex after Tuesday morning's workout.

That wasn't surprising. Bonds has remained busy since arriving Monday for his visit as a guest instructor. The Giants' eagerness to tap into Bonds' knowledge appears destined to last through Sunday, when his stint ends.

"I know everybody has questions for him," shortstop Brandon Crawford said.

Bonds displayed equal zeal regardless of a player's status. He looked just as earnest while dispensing advice to aspiring big leaguers such as Roger Kieschnick and Nick Noonan as he did when tutoring regulars Michael Morse and Crawford.

"They have to believe in themselves," Bonds said. "That's the key. They're good players. They're strong. They showed it today in batting practice. Now we just need to build their confidence up and realize you're going to fail a lot more than you'll ever be successful."

Offering hope for the Giants as the regular season approaches, Bonds praised Hunter Pence and Morse, the projected starters at the outfield corners.

"He's in the red zone all the time. He's on high alert," Bonds said of Pence. "I love his strength, his power, his attitude, his mindset."

Bonds, who followed the Giants while his father, Bobby, excelled for the club from 1968-74, compared Morse to two sluggers from his youth.

"He's crazy, unbelievably strong. He has that Dave Kingman/Mac [Willie McCovey] natural strength," Bonds said.

Since hitting involves more subtlety than strength, Bonds did what he could to hone the Giants' swings. To encourage players to track pitches longer, he conducted a drill in which a hitter assumes his stance and catches a ball with his rear hand (on the arm facing away from the pitcher). Bonds began by standing several feet in front of a hitter and tossing baseballs underhanded for him to catch. Then they'd graduate to the pitching machines, limiting the velocity so the hitter could grab the ball without injuring himself.

Bonds worked extensively in the outdoor batting cage with Crawford, who's batting .100 (2-for-20) this spring. The Giants' full-time hitting coaches, Hensley Meulens and Joe Lefebvre, were on hand but mostly silent, allowing Bonds to have his say.

A left-handed batter, Crawford has tried to keep his front shoulder closed, but when he's struggling, he yanks it toward first base when he swings with extra effort.

Toward the end of his batting-practice session, Crawford hit with authority, prompting murmurs of approval from the observing coaches. Hitters can have "paralysis by analysis" when they receive too much advice or hear from too many well-meaning sources. But Crawford welcomed Bonds' assistance.

"Everything I heard him talk about this morning [regarded] keeping your swing as simple as possible," Crawford said. "And he explains it in the simplest ways. It's cool to just listen to him. The big thing he was telling me was that my hands are fast enough to get to an inside pitch. I don't need to cheat or use my body or shoulders to get to that pitch."

As if to demonstrate how it's done, Bonds took a few swings of his own in a covered batting cage. He was obscured from the prying eyes of reporters, but the handful of Giants fortunate enough to see him were suitably impressed.

Though Bonds claimed that he hadn't picked up a bat in six years -- since roughly the date of his last game on Sept. 26, 2007 -- Crawford admired what he saw. A Giants fan during boyhood, Crawford said of Bonds' swing, "It looks the same as when I watched it."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Brandon Crawford, Michael Morse, Hunter Pence