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Dusty Baker on Rick Schu's role, taking a crash course in the Nationals + more

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Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker talked in an MLB Network Radio on Friday about Rick Schu helping him out in D.C., getting to know the Nationals and filling out the rest of his staff this winter. And he made a joke about the New York Mets...

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Dusty Baker was just beginning to answer a question about working with Washington Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo and the impressive staff the Nationals are assembling around their new manager in the nation's capital during an MLB Network Radio interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on Friday afternoon when his phone dropped out, twice, interrupting the proceedings.

When Baker rejoined the show, the 66-year-old former major leaguer and veteran of twenty seasons on the bench as a manager in the majors came back swinging.

"We're in the process right now of trying to solidify the rest of my coaching staff, because these are the guys that do most of the work behind the scenes..." -Dusty Baker on working to fill the remaining positions on his staff

"I think the Mets are sabotaging this call," Baker joked, saying he thought it was time to get a new phone and service provider while simultaneously taking a friendly jab at Washington's NL East rivals from New York.

The Nationals' sixth full-time skipper was enthusiastic about the Nats hiring pitching coach Mike Maddux, who came on board just after Baker got the job.

"Mike Maddux is a very astute baseball guy," Baker said.

"The brother of Greg Maddux. I think it runs in the family and they've got an idea about what they want to do. And we're in the process right now of trying to solidify the rest of my coaching staff, because these are the guys that do most of the work behind the scenes and these are the guys that really spend the most time with the players, so this is a very, very important decision, especially when I've only got a two-year contract."

There's an urgency to make some noise in the postseason over that stretch and the Nationals' manager wants to hit the ground running.

Baker talked about another potential member of his staff next. Though he didn't say he was staying in any particular role, Baker said that Rick Schu remained part of the equation.

"I want to know and learn as much as I can in a short period of time," he explained.

"I'm kind of like taking a condensed course on the team. That's why I kept Rick Schu still in the fold, because I've got to have somebody there that kind of knows the players, that I trust his judgement.

"Rick Schu went to my high school, he's much younger than me, but he's from Sacramento. We're going to get together as soon as he gets off of vacation."

"I am depending on some video. I'm depending on some of the stat guys. I'm depending on coaches. I'm depending on the front office and I'm also depending on my eyes..." -Dusty Baker on cramming on the Nationals as he gets started in D.C.

"I don't believe in going into a new organization and cleaning house," Baker continued, "because you've got to have somebody that has some kind of opinion, or a semblance -- that you -- like I said, that you trust in personnel.

"What you see a lot of times on the other side of the field is totally different than when you get on that side of the field.

"I know there were players that I coveted and I was told, 'Oh no, you don't want that guy, he's not a good team guy,' and then you keep him anyway and he's not a good team guy and there's other guys playing on the other side of the field that you can't stand, but then they end up being some of your best players and your best team leaders.

"I am depending on some video. I'm depending on some of the stat guys. I'm depending on coaches. I'm depending on the front office and I'm also depending on my eyes, because at this point I know what an athlete looks like."

Baker was also asked about the positions that aren't yet filled and whether he had any particular names in mind for the remaining openings?

"The second part of that question I really can't let the cat out of the bag," Baker responded, "but we're trying to decide between who the third base coach and the bench coach is. Chris Speier is going to fill one of those voids. We need to try to come up with a bullpen guy, a catching guy, which I think baseball has done a poor job of -- the catching guy is usually the first guy to be let go and the last guy to find, but I think that's one of the most important positions on the field. Somebody to direct your catchers, that direct your pitchers and they're a direct reflection on me and they're my field general. We've also got to come up with an assistant batting coach.

"I believe in a diversified staff. I want some old, some young, some white, some black, some Latin players, because everybody has to have someone that they can converse with or talk to and let's face it, I've always said that the coaches are like talking to your uncle, you can tell your uncle anything.

"Talking to the manager is like talking to your dad. I can tell my dad most things, but there are certain things I can't tell my dad."

Washington Post writer James Wagner reported on Friday night that Rick Schu is, in fact, "... expected to return as Nationals hitting [coach], according to people familiar with the situation, marking, at least for now, the lone holdover from the previous coaching staff."

As of now, Baker's staff includes Maddux, veteran first base coach Davey Lopes, Schu and Speier in whatever role he ends up filling.