Barry Bonds says his return to baseball is a labor of love inspired by his late father, Bobby Bonds, and his godfather, Willie Mays.
In a wide-ranging interview with MLB.com, Bonds, hired earlier this month as the Miami Marlins' hitting coach, also credited his mother with encouraging him as he questioned whether he was making the right move.
"It was something I had no intention of doing," Bonds said of taking the Marlins job. "And then I started thinking about my dad and everything he taught me. I started thinking about [manager] Jim Leyland and 1986 with the Pirates. We had all these kids sprinkled with a few veterans."
Added Bonds: "I need to try this. I'll never know if I like it unless I try. Baseball, that's my thing, that's who I am. With everything I've done as a hitter, I'm the best at that. I wouldn't have been able to do it unless the opportunity came up. So I figured, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it the way my dad would have done it. I've got to be in the trenches with them.
"I could come in for a day or two and give them tips and things, but what happens when a guy really loses it and you're not there? See what I mean? So I kind of want to honor my dad for what he did. Honor my godfather [Mays] for what he did."
Bonds, who set the MLB career record for home runs with 762 but faced a decade-long federal prosecution related to his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, discussed his doubts about returning to baseball full time.
"I didn't ever think this was something I wanted to do. You know me, when [Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria] asked me, it was like I wanted to click on the phone and say, 'Hello? Are you serious?'" he told MLB.com.
"The more I talked to my mom about it, the more she encouraged me. I told her, 'I don't know if I want to go back and do it every day.' She said, 'Why not? You may hate it, but if you don't try you'll never know. You might love it and you might be one of the best teachers who ever lived. You don't know unless you get in the box and find out.'"
Bonds' deal is for one year, and he said whether he continues on will depend in part on how he adapts to the role and the grind.
"I'm going to have some struggles, being back in the bus every day, riding everywhere. I haven't done that in a long time. I haven't lived out of a suitcase for a long time. But it is what it is," he said.
"I'm going to try it out. Give it my best shot. I'll see. By about July I might [no longer want to do it]. Who knows? ... Hopping on a plane, getting in at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, I don't know how I'm going to cope with stuff like that. I'm an early riser anyway and I go to bed early. Me being to work at 8 o'clock in the morning, I don't give a darn about that. But that hotel stuff every single day?"
The Marlins certainly will be able to use Bonds' hitting advice. In 2015, when they finished 71-91, they ranked next to last in the majors in runs and home runs, and last in walks.
"My job is hitting, and I'm going to stay in my box," Bonds said. "I'm not coming out of my box for anything. I'm not going to do anything else. Running, hitting, outfield. I'm probably the best at all of those things there. I think Ichiro [Suzuki] might have more hits than me. But other than that, I'm not coming out of my box for anything. I think it's a good thing. I think what I'm doing is a good thing. Right now, I'm just so happy about being back."
Bonds also said he plans to stay out of the media.
"That's not my thing. That's [manager] Don Mattingly's thing," he said.
Since his playing career ended in 2007, Bonds has privately tutored several players, including Alex Rodriguez, and has worked as a guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants in spring training. But his new role with the Marlins marks a more significant commitment.
"I needed to give back," Bonds told MLB.com. "I'm 51 years old and I'm not getting any younger."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.