Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
New Fish a good catch
Second sacker Bond hitting .455 through first four games
Oh, you know how the pro baseball thing goes -- one day you're hanging on with some major league organization, healing an injury that stuttered your season.
The next thing you know, you're on a plane to Quebec, to play ball with a team you've barely heard of and never seen.
Yeah, this is how second baseman Brock Bond came to the Winnipeg Goldeyes last week, dropping in the roster in the middle of their 10-game road trip through the CanAm League. It was a surprise to the former San Francisco Giants draft pick too, the way it all sorted out.
At least he had some idea of what to expect.
Bond is buddies with Tyler Graham, who played outfield with the Goldeyes last season, and knew Fish hitter Josh Mazzola from time they spent rehabbing injuries with the Giants organization.
"I heard this is one of the top minor-league places to play in all of indie and affiliated ball," Bond said. "I'm 28, I feel like I still enjoy the game, love the game and want to keep playing."
The Goldeyes changed while they were gallivanting through 10 games (six wins, four losses) in New Jersey and Quebec.
Highly touted starting pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth made his return after rolling his ankle before he hurled his first game. Meanwhile, magnificent young starter Kyle Anderson headed out, his contract bought by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization after he hurled eight games (seven of them starts) to the tune of a 1.64 ERA.
Bullpen rookie Jeff Stoner got injured, so manager Rick Forney picked up Taylor Bratton to fill his role. Then second baseman Jake Blackwood hurt his ankle, and the Fish signed rookie Davidson Peguero. Peguero lasted one day and one decent game (.500 with an RBI) before the Goldeyes landed Bond.
Here's the quick scouting report. Don't expect Bond to crush many balls -- he's hit just seven homers in his career, in 2,178 total at-bats and has never put up more in a season than the three he walloped in 2013. But he's a switch hitter, he likes to work deep in the count.
And he draws walks, a lot: Against 330 career strikeouts, he's coaxed 310 free trips to first base.
All told, he gets on base a lot: In the 242 games he played at the AAA level, where he owns a sturdy .403 on base percentage.
"I just try to have good at-bats every time, and be a tough out, and get on base," he said. And the walks? "That's a by-product of sticking to my approach, I guess."
Heck, the Goldeyes have seen that tendency already. In his first four games with the Fish, before they came home to Shaw Park on Friday night, Bond hit .455. He collected five hits in 11 at-bats, with a double and a pair of RBI. He stole a couple of bases, too.
So by the books, the Missouri product was a fine-looking pick-up for the Fish. But just 16 months ago, Bond had a stall in the Giants major-league camp. At the time, Comcast Sportsnet reporter Andrew Baggarly penned a long feature on Bond, capturing a journeyman's wonder as he stood on the cusp of cracking the big roster. "I had a really good spring, and I was thinking, what next?" Bond said. "Hopefully, maybe get a shot at the big leagues. You never know."
Instead, he tore an oblique muscle in a big-league exhibition game, went to rehab, and wound up playing the season back in San Jose, the advanced-A affiliate that also bears the Giants name.
Then he was a free agent, and the Baltimore Orioles picked him up for their spring camp. He took an injury there too, hyperextending his elbow. "Next thing you know, they released me," he said. "I worked hard, so I figured, I'm going to keep playing this year."
It's always a sad story, the thin line between the guys who stay healthy at the right time, and those that don't. Bond is already something of a trooper in this department: He battled back from a vicious 2011 concussion that sidelined him for seven months, the painful result of a crack in the head from a teammate's practice line drive. A freak accident, just bad timing.
Speaking of accidents, it may have been an accident that he got into affiliated ball at all.
After years of rumours, the Giants confirmed to Baggarly they'd actually meant to pick a different Bond -- Casey, who played a handful of seasons and later became an actor -- in the 24th round. They ended up taking Casey Bond with their next pick and swore they'd planned to take both players all along.
Either way, it opened up a career that brought him awfully close to the sun. But now, running around in the indie-ball dirt, Bond said it wasn't so hard to relax and make the transition work.
"I'm not going to worry about getting picked up by another team," he said. "I'm going to let that take care of itself and enjoy the next few months.
"I heard great things about Winnipeg, and I was just looking to have fun, really. Being in affiliated ball, there was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. You got coaches looking down on you, and front office and everything. It's kind of nice to get away... you can't tell who's a coach and who's a player here, because everybody's super cool."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2014 C5
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