After scoring the second-fewest runs in the majors last season, the Miami Marlins brought in Barry Bonds as their hitting coach to help turn things around.
The move hasn't resulted in a major bump in production just yet, but the Marlins are coming off a solid day at the plate as they begin a three-game series Friday night against the skidding San Francisco Giants in Bonds' return to the Bay Area.
Miami scored 613 runs for an average of 3.78 to rank ahead of only Atlanta in 2015, and when Don Mattingly was hired as manager, owner Jeffrey Loria suggested adding Bonds to the staff.
The Marlins (5-9) are scoring 3.93 runs per game, though they are among the NL leaders with a .263 batting average.
"It's nice to be back on the field," Bonds said. "I like it a lot. It feels better on this side than when I was playing. I was always focused in on, 'I've got to do the next job. I've got to go play defense.' Now I get to be on this side and enjoy it."
The Marlins salvaged a split in their four-game series against visiting Washington with a 5-1 win Thursday. They won the opener 6-1 before totaling one run in the next two.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Bonds said. "These guys are young players. You expect bumps in the road. That's the whole challenge of it."
He can certainly give those young players some pointers on hitting in San Francisco. Bonds, the career leader with 762 home runs and a record seven-time MVP, played there from 1993 until his career ended in 2007.
"It's not going to feel strange," Bonds said. "That's my home. That will always be my home. I don't feel strange at home."
Jeff Samardzija will finally get a chance to pitch in his new home after going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in his first three starts with the Giants (7-10). He gave up three runs over seven-plus innings of a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA in six starts against the Marlins, last facing them in June 2014 with the Chicago Cubs. Giancarlo Stanton is 3 for 16 with six strikeouts in their matchups, while Adeiny Hechavarria has gone 6 for 9 with a homer.
Miami will send Jarred Cosart (0-0, 6.10 ERA) to the mound for his second career start against the Giants. The right-hander allowed four runs over four innings in a 6-0 loss at AT&T Park last May.
"It's one of my favorite parks, the atmosphere," Cosart told MLB's official website. "They have a good lineup and some guys that can hurt you."
That hasn't been the case lately for the Giants, who lost their fifth straight and fell for the eighth time in nine games with a 6-2 defeat to Arizona on Thursday.
San Francisco has been held to two runs or fewer four times while going 3 for 35 with runners in scoring position during the five-game slide.
"That's what we're missing, a timely hit," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You always look like this when you don't get those hits. We need someone to inject some life in us."
The Marlins have won three straight and six of the last eight meetings.