In the summer of 2004, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds was on the verge of making history.
RiverdogsSeason Opener: Thursday at GreenvilleHome Opener: April 11 vs. AugustaTickets: $8-$19Information: www.riverdogs.com or (843) 577-3647
Bonds was on his way to becoming only the third player in Major League Baseball history — joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth — to hit 700 home runs.
Bonds was stuck on No. 699 when interim-Arizona manager Al Pedrique told reporters before a series with the Giants that he wasn’t going to let Bonds hit No. 700 in front of the Diamondback fans. He said he would pitch around or intentionally walk Bonds.
Bonds was walked eight times during the series and left Arizona still one homer shy of 700.
Pedrique, the new manager for the Charleston RiverDogs, said Tuesday he was joking back in ’04 when he told reporters he wasn’t going to give Bonds anything to hit in the series.
It’s just the way things turned out.
“I jokingly told our pitchers that if Barry Bonds comes up and the situation calls for it, walk him,” Pedrique said. “I told the media as well, and I think they just took it the wrong way. Nobody wants to be the pitcher that gives up a home run like that.”
The media and baseball commissioner Bud Selig didn’t think it was a laughing matter and took Pedrique to task.
But it wasn’t like Bonds was getting a lot of pitches to hit that season anyway. Bonds walked a major league record 232 times that summer.
“I wasn’t the only manager that didn’t want to pitch to Barry,” Pedrique said.
Ironically, Pedrique and Bonds were teammates briefly during the 1987 and 1988 seasons in Pittsburgh.
“I never got a chance to talk with Barry after that series,” Pedrique said. “I talked with a couple of his teammates, and they told me that Barry wasn’t upset. He didn’t take it personally. It’s part of the game. Everyone was walking Barry. I respect the game too much to disrespect it.”
Luckily, Pedrique won’t have to worry about Bonds in the South Atlantic League. Pedrique becomes the fifth RiverDogs manager in as many years as he follows Mendoza (2012), Aaron Ledesma (2011), Greg Colbrunn (2010) and Torre Tyson (2009). The RiverDogs are a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Pedrique, who played in 174 major league games, has managed in the minors for the Diamondbacks, Houston and Kansas City organizations from 2000-02. He returned to the majors in 2003 as the third base coach for the Diamondbacks. In 2004, he began the season as manager of the Tucson Sidewinders, the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate, but he was hired as manager of the Diamondbacks on an interim basis when Bob Brenly was fired in July. He compiled a 22–61 record.
He was hired as the Astros bench coach in 2009 after previously serving as a minor league field coordinator and third base coach for the Astros.
“Every organization is different and everyone does things a little differently,” Pedrique said. “What I try to do is take the best from each organization and use it to help teach the players the right way to play the game.”
Pedrique is excited about managing again and believes the RiverDogs have plenty of potential throughout their roster.
“I like being able to make out a lineup every day,” he said. “I think we’ve got a balanced team with some very good young arms and some good hitters. We want develop them as player and the way to start is to teach them how to win early in their professional careers.”
The RiverDogs open the season Thursday at Greenville and play their home opener at Riley Park on April 11 against Augusta.
Charleston RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique opens his first season as manager for the RiverDogs.( Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com/4/2/2013 )×
Charleston RiverDogs Infielder Dante Bichette, Jr., (left), manager Al Pedrique (center) and infielder Gregory Bird (right) at Riley Park during RiverDogs media day. ( Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com/4/2/2013 )×