SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds remains in a state of -- what would you call it? Suspended animation?
He's kind of like Ted Williams, except Bonds is about 200 degrees warmer and his head is connected to his torso.
Bonds was at the Giants' ballpark Sunday for the 10-year reunion of San Francisco's 2000 team, but where is Bonds, really?
He is one week into his third season as an unemployed slugger, he is 45, but don't call him retired. Announce his retirement? Why?
"It's not necessary," Bonds said. "Retirement isn't that important."
Is he plotting a comeback? Is he in denial? Is he toying with the fans and media? The deliberately vague answer, the tease, has always been a Bonds specialty, and Sunday we were reminded what a playful guy he can be, and what a pain in the tush.
Bonds was on the list of 14 Giants from the 2000 club expected for a media session at 10:15 a.m. in a luxury suite. Most of the players showed. Jeff Kent didn't, reportedly rain-delayed at the airport.
Bonds was not there. As the media session was ending, there was a rumor Bonds was in an interview room near the Giants' clubhouse. And so he was, but then he emerged from that room, hopped into an electric cart and was whisked away, the media gaggle huffing and puffing in pursuit. Bonds was ushered into a freight elevator (no fat-guy jokes, please!) and lifted back to near where the media stakeout had begun.
Bonds was taken into a private suite, then about 15 minutes later he elevatored back down to just outside the reunion suite. The media followed Bonds as he hurried toward the suite, and two police officers physically pushed the media back, even though as a group we were badly winded and posed no threat of storming the door.
A few minutes later Bonds re-emerged, smiled, and answered questions for 6-1/2 minutes.
We lobbed softball questions first. Usual protocol is to start easy and gradually move to the hard cheese, questions about his perjury trial and steroids. But five minutes into the session, a team official announced a wrap-up. After a question about Bonds' reaction to Mark McGwire's steroid admission, the official hustled Bonds back to the reunion suite.
So yes, we media took too many pitches. We should have come out swinging.
Not that Bonds was going to spill any guts. His federal trial is in limbo, pending appeals. It seems to be going well for him and the possibility looms that the case will be thrown out like yesterday's garbage. But Bonds certainly isn't going to comment on the trial, or on his rumored involvement with PEDs.
Bonds did, however, prop the door open for his return to baseball, as a player or a coach.
When asked about McGwire's confessions of steroid use and return to the game as a coach, Bonds said, "I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire and I'm proud of him."
Spoken like a man hoping to follow McGwire's career path?
Bonds said he continues to work out daily "because it's in my blood," and he said he has trimmed from his playing weight of 238 pounds to 225.
Could he come back and play?
"I would have to work out a little bit harder to give it any kind of formal consideration," Bonds said, which would sound ludicrous coming from any other long-gone 45-year-old.
When Bonds is 70, he'll still be dropping hints of a comeback.
Bonds said he went to Florida this spring to work with Phillies' slugger Ryan Howard, at Howard's request.
"He's doing very, very well (hitting .357 through Sunday) and hasn't said one thing about me yet, but I love him and I'm glad he's doing well," Bonds said.
Clearly Bonds would appreciate a little public student-to-guru love from Howard.
Would Bonds want to do more coaching, with individuals or a team?
"I was given a gift with the things that I know and can do in this game," Bonds said, "and sooner or later I will be able to pass that along. ... I can see things that (other hitters) don't understand how I can see it, I have a very good talent for the game of baseball. If you want it, I'll be happy to share with you."
Right now the Giants don't want it. Bonds' relationship with the Giants has been tenuous since they pasture-ized him at the end of the 2007 season.
Bonds said he watches every Giants game on TV. He said that on trips to the Bay Area (he lives in Southern California) he sometimes drives wistfully past the ballpark. Maybe searching in vain for his name on the Giants' Wall of Fame.
It's awkward. Bonds had to be there Sunday. He made this ballpark possible 10 years ago, and he was the superstar who kept the turnstiles spinning, but there's all that other, you know, baggage.
How about your plans, Barry?
"I don't have any plans at all," he said.