Mattingly 'all in' on Bonds as Marlins hitting coach, report says

Report: Don Mattingly 'all in' on Barry Bonds as Marlins hitting coach along with Menechino.

What initially seemed like an idea out of left field may be close to becoming reality with multiple reports indicating the Marlins are close to a deal to make Barry Bonds one of their hitting coaches.

If an agreement is reached it would create the intriguing working relationship of baseball's all-time home run leader — albeit a polarizing figure whose career was tainted by a performance-enhancing drug scandal — tutoring the premier long-ball threat of this era, Giancarlo Stanton.

Bob Nightengale, of USA Today, tweeted Tuesday that Bonds "tentatively plans to accept the Marlins offer to be hitting coach with Frank Menechino." Longtime baseball insider Peter Gammons reported that Menechino and new Marlins manager Don Mattingly were "all in on Bonds, if it works."

Former Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves is expected to assume that role in Miami, but a Marlins spokesman said the team won't announce coaching appointments until the staff is finalized. Nieves would replace Chuck Hernandez, who coached Marlins pitchers the past three seasons.

Nieves, whose three seasons pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers included a no-hitter against Baltimore in 1987, was fired by the Red Sox in May with the staff struggling with a 5.54 ERA. But with a different group of pitchers in 2013, they posted a 3.79 ERA with a club-record 1,294 strikeouts on the way to winning the World Series.

Nieves' work has received praise within the industry, notably from long-time White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who initially hired him as a minor league pitching coach. Nieves was bullpen coach under Cooper in Chicago from 2008-12.

"He's creative," Cooper told the Boston Globe earlier this year. "He thinks out of the box sometimes, and I think you got to think out of the box sometimes. He's very personable. He's classy, he's bilingual, he's got many, many good attributes."

Meanwhile, Bonds has never held a coaching position but was a special hitting instructor for the San Francisco Giants during spring training the past two years. He would be co-hitting coach with Menechino if he accepts the Marlins' offer.

Menechino would be one of four Marlins coaches returning, along with infield/first-base coach Perry Hill, third-base coach Lenny Harris and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, who were already under contract for 2016. Harris was also assistant hitting coach last season.

Mattingly has said he wants Tim Wallach, his bench coach when he managed the Dodgers, to fill the same role in Miami.

Meanwhile, the Marlins must decide by midnight Wednesday whether to tender offers to 10 arbitration-eligible players. The most difficult decision is on right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who missed most of last season following shoulder surgery and is not expected to be ready by Opening Day. Alvarez, an All-Star in 2014, made only four starts and recorded no wins this past season while earning $4 million.

Also coming off injuries are right-handers Aaron Crow and David Phelps. The club is expected to tender offers to infielders Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria as well as pitchers A.J. Ramos, Tom Koehler, Bryan Morris, Carter Capps and Jose Fernandez. The Marlins have begun preliminary discussions on a multiyear contract for Gordon.

The Marlins have signed former Giants outfielder Justin Maxwell to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Maxwell appeared in 100 games for the Giants in 2015 but was released after batting .209.

Similar non-roster deals were reported with first baseman Xavier Scruggs and right-hander Paul Clemens, both with major league experience, though the Marlins have not announced the moves.

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