Some of the mystery surrounding the health of Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker was cleared up before Tuesday night’s Reds-Milwaukee Brewers game when Baker quietly showed up in the clubhouse to meet with his National League Central Division-winning team.
The reason why Baker ended up staying longer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago than expected last week is because while being treated for an irregular heartbeat, the veteran skipper suffered what was characterized as a mini-stroke by his team.
For now, interim manager Chris Speier, Baker’s bench coach, will continue to run the squad and it is projected after a rest Baker will resume his duties in time for the last regular-season series against the Cardinals inSt. Louis, Oct. 1-3, and run the club during the playoffs.
Baker, who used to manage the Cubs, left Wrigley Field for treatment during last Wednesday’s game and it was expected that he would only be in the hospital for a day for observation. However, Baker did not return home toCincinnatiuntil Sunday.
Baker did not meet with reporters Tuesday, but the team released a statement clarifying his condition, what happened, and including some bare-bones comments from the 63-year-old who is managing his third team after the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.
The story was related this way: Baker was admitted to the hospital in Chicagoand diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which is the medical term for an irregular heartbeat. He was about to be discharged Friday, when everyone originally thought he would fly back to Cincinnati, when he suffered the mini-stroke. Hospital treatment only feet away and Baker remained inChicagofor two more days.
Baker said that when he initially didn’t feel well, the Cubs trainer, Paul Lessard examined him and had “the good sense to call in Cubs physician Dr. Stephen Adams.” Baker said the first examination of him took place in the visitors’ clubhouse. Adams determined quickly that it was a serious situation and accompanied Baker toNorthwesternHospital.
Doctors are monitoring his condition “to make sure I’m ready to handle the duties of managing before I return full-time.”
The Reds, who brought a 92-61 record into Tuesday’s game after clinching their division last Saturday, are under no pressure to win over the next game in Baker’s absence. However, they are scheduled to face teams like the Brewers and Cardinals, still vying for wild-card spots, and the Pirates, still hoping to break their record of 19 straight losing seasons.
Speier, who worked up a sweat throwing batting practice Tuesday afternoon (apparently no pitch count for him) said that Baker provided a morale boost to the team and had lost some weight.
“He’s anxious to come back and he looked great,” Speier said. “It was great to see him.
Speier said that he and the team are walking a fine line, trying to remain healthy and rested, going into the playoffs, but “we’re gonna try to win every game. We’re going to try to knock everybody we play out.”
Baker, who may be one of the favorites to win a fourth National League manager-of-the-year award, is under no pressure to return to his high-pressurized job swiftly because the Reds clinched their division championship so early. Other than the pangs of being away from his team that he must be feeling. Pangs are better than heart pains, though.
In his statement, Baker thanked the Reds ownership and management, as well as fans, for support,
“I’m feeling much better and it’s great being back inCincinnati,” he said. “Chris Speier and my staff are doing a terrific job and I look forward to getting back to the dugout.”
Baker has led three teams to the playoffs and managed in a World Series, but has never won one as field boss. This year’s Reds team offers his best chance in years to achieve that goal.