Marlins name Bonds hitting coach, Wallach bench coach
All-time home run leader joins staff, as does Nieves to coach pitchers
MIAMI -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly has assembled a high-profile staff headlined by Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds, who was named hitting coach on Friday, with Frank Menechino returning as assistant hitting coach.
Bonds is one of five new coaches who will be part of Mattingly's first season with Miami. The other new faces are Tim Wallach (bench), Juan Nieves (pitching), Brian Schneider (catching) and Lorenzo Bundy (outfield/baserunning).
As an organization, the Marlins are stressing development. They're also taking a new approach, employing two hitting coaches and a designated catching coach.
"Extremely impressed with Barry's willingness to be part of this team, and his excitement being back and teaching," Mattingly said via a conference call on Friday. "It's what I think we're going to be about -- teaching and developing and continuing to improve our club in any way that we can. Obviously, Barry, we look at him as a big part of that, and we welcome him."
Reports that Bonds could join the Marlins surfaced on Monday. The 51-year-old, who retired as a player in 2007, has no previous professional coaching experience. But he did spend a week in 2014 as a special instructor for the Giants in Spring Training.
Bonds' job will be working closely with Menechino, the team's hitting coach the past two seasons. The daily grind, he insists, won't be an issue.
"The only way that I'm going to do this or give the information I have in my brain is, I've got to be in the trenches with them," Bonds said.
The son of the late, great Bobby Bonds, Barry's also the godson of Hall of Famer Willie Mays. He said both of them instructed, and now it is his time.
"That's what my dad did. That's what Willie did," Bonds said. "I feel I need to be in the trenches with them to get their attention.
"It's easy to walk in for a day and say, 'OK, hi, I'm Barry Bonds, and I've done this.' You can get their attention for a minute, but what can you fix in a day? What can you fix in two days? But me being in there, day in, day out, I think I bring a lot to the table for them."
Also returning from Miami's 2015 staff will be Perry Hill (first base/infield), Lenny Harris (third base) and Reid Cornelius (bullpen).
Bonds is MLB's all-time home run leader with 762. A seven-time Most Valuable Player, he played 22 seasons in the big leagues. He was a 14-time All-Star, a 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he collected eight Gold Glove Awards.
In 2007, Bonds was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice during the federal government's BALCO investigation. The perjury charges were dropped, but he was convicted of obstruction of justice. The conviction was upheld by an appellate court in 2013, but another hearing in 2015 reversed the decision.
Several weeks ago, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria presented the idea of hiring Bonds to Mattingly and the front office.
"This is a very great moment for the Marlins, because of what we think Barry adds as a member of the staff as a hitting coach," Marlins president David Samson said. "That's what it's about, making our team better."
Bonds isn't the only former All-Star with his image clouded by suspicions of performancing-enhancing drug use seeking to re-enter the game. Mark McGwire was Mattingly's hitting coach with Los Angeles, and he recently became the Padres' bench coach. Roger Clemens is a special assistant for the Astros, and Gary Sheffield is an analyst for TBS.
Whether his return to the game will enhance his Hall of Fame chances, Bonds doesn't know. He is focused on his new job.
"Me coming back into the game, I'm in a different capacity," Bonds said. "I'm now a rookie coach. That's all I think about. It's not about me. It's about those guys on the team now. Me coming back to the game is only to help Donnie's staff, and only to help the Marlins baseball team. Outside of that, I don't really think about anything else or what my capacity is."
Wallach was Mattingly's bench coach the past two seasons with the Dodgers, and his hiring was expected. A five-time All-Star, he played 17 years in the big leagues. Prior to being a bench coach with Los Angeles, he served three seasons as hitting coach.
Nieves recently was the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox from 2013 until May 2015. He replaces Chuck Hernandez, who is now in the Braves system. Nieves joined the Red Sox after 14 seasons as a coach in the White Sox organization. He was Chicago's bullpen coach from 2008-12.
As a player in 1987, Nieves became the first Brewers pitcher and the first Puerto Rican to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues.
Bundy was the Dodgers' third-base coach in 2014-15, and he previously managed 12 years in the Minor Leagues. Among his stops, he was a manager in the Marlins system in 1997.
Schneider, who had a 13-year big league career, spent the past two seasons managing Miami's Class A Advanced Jupiter squad.