SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco kept inching closer to the table, their eyes wide and ears perked.

Sitting between two rows of lockers at Scottsdale Stadium, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds spent about an hour recounting stories from their playing days, telling jokes and dispensing advice to current Giants. Midway through the conversation, Mays, who will be 83 in May, stood up, took off his jacket and showed the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Morse that he still has the bulging forearms that made him one of the best hitters of all time.

"That's the don't-leave-it-over-the-middle table," Sergio Romo yelled, laughing and shaking his head. "Don't hang that slider! That's a lot of homers right there."

The total was 1,943 homers, to be exact, along with more than 8,000 hits, 10 MVP trophies and 40 All-Star Game appearances. The power summit even left former Giants All-Star Rich Aurilia in awe. "If I join the table, I can put them over 2,000 homers," he said with a smile.

Aurilia is in camp as a special instructor, the same title given to Bonds. On Tuesday, the two served the same purpose and, aside from the meeting at the table, operated largely under the same spotlight. That is to say, there was almost nothing out of the ordinary. A day after nearly 50 reporters crammed onto a patio deck for Bonds' news conference, the Giants hosted only one member of the press who is not part of the regular crew, and he was there to talk to Tim Lincecum, not Bonds. There were no camera crews around Tuesday, and fans near the dugout spent more time asking Brandon Crawford for autographs than they did yelling for Bonds. By the time half the clubhouse boarded an 11 a.m. bus for a road game against the Cincinnati Reds, any concerns about Bonds being a distraction had been put to bed.


Advertisement

The 49-year-old claimed he was under the covers by 8 p.m. on Monday, the first of his seven days in camp.

"Man, I've been tired," Bonds said, leaning back on a trainer's table. "I'm more tired now than when I was playing. I'm exhausted."

If Monday had Bonds in bed by eight, Tuesday's work might have turned the lights out before the evening news. Bonds was at Scottsdale Stadium soon after the sun came up, working with Hunter Pence in the outfield batting cage. Crawford saw the conversation and decided to soak up some knowledge. Before long, Bonds was drilling the left-handed hitter, who should benefit from working with the player who had one of the shortest, quickest swings in history.

Crawford gets in trouble when he gets long at the plate and glides forward. Bonds had him stand in the box and catch baseballs with his trail hand, rather than swing at them. The drill is designed to teach hitters to track the ball longer and keep their front shoulder steady.

"I started keeping my shoulder a lot more closed, just to get that feeling of not flying open," Crawford said. "He was telling me that my hands are quick enough to get to the inside pitch. I don't need to cheat with my body. I should start by driving the ball the opposite way."

Bonds was just as hands-on when Crawford took batting practice on the main field, following every round with another set of instructions. Bonds said he wants hitters to keep things simple, but he wasn't sure if the message would hit home this week. With Crawford, it did.

"Everything I heard him talk about this morning is to just keep my swing as simple as possible, and he was explaining things in simple ways," Crawford said. "It's cool just to listen to him. He's only here for a week so he's going to try to get as much work and coaching in as he can, and I know everybody has questions for him."

Bonds stopped Morse's BP session to show him the same catching drill, and later worked closely with Nick Noonan and Roger Kieschnick, two young left-handed hitters. Much of the work Bonds did Tuesday involved the mental side of the game, and he made a point of praising Pence for his approach.

"That guy never slows down. He's on high alert," Bonds said. "But I love his strength, his power, his attitude, his mindset. He has a really good mind and he's strong in the head, which I like. He's not soft."

Bonds was hardened by his father, Bobby, and Mays, but he said he isn't using their coaching techniques this week.

"I was raised by them so I didn't get any leeway with anything they were saying," he said, laughing. "They beat me down a lot and I had to pick myself up every time. I don't know if (these guys) could take what my dad would say, or Willie. Not yet. We have to build a little more of a relationship before that happens."

Bonds might not have time for that in his first run with the team. He has just five more days in camp and is focused on doing as much introductory teaching as he can. So far, it's been smooth sailing in all aspects. Those who have worked with the team since Bonds' playing days say he's a changed man. "He's been good with us," one team employee said. "Really good."

Bonds has been good with the players, too, even giving them a taste of what most really want to see. During his morning session in the cage, Bonds took some swings in front of Crawford, who grew up cheering for the Giants, and Pence, who had a Bonds poster on the wall of his childhood bedroom.

Bonds is showing that he can talk about hitting. Can he still do it?

"It looked good, it looked the same," Crawford said. "He claims he didn't swing for six years, but it doesn't look like it."

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.