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Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker is not done yet: Old morals and new ideas in D.C.

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Washington's Nationals hired 66-year-old skipper Dusty Baker after an exhaustive search for Matt Williams' replacement on the bench in the nation's capital. Mike Rizzo said Thursday that he trusts that they got the right man for the job.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Back when the Washington Nationals were searching for Davey Johnson's replacement on the bench in the nation's capital in 2013, Dusty Baker reached out to GM Mike Rizzo through his agent to let the Nationals know that he was interested in the job.

Baker, then 64 and only a week removed from his role as the Cincinnati Reds' skipper, told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore he wanted to let people know he wasn't done.

"I don’t know why people think I’m going to retire," Baker told the WaPost reporter.

"We did not talk to Dusty last time we went through the process. This time we needed to get ourselves an established manager with a deep resume and a guy that had a history of winning." -Mike Rizzo on hiring Dusty Baker as manager

"I told them I’m a young 64. I’m better [physically] now than I was at this time last year. I feel younger now. I’m serious. I’m taking better care of myself than I was then. I’ll know when the time comes for me to go home. I’m not [one] of those that refuses to face reality."

Baker, who was hired as the Nationals' skipper earlier this week and introduced as the new manager on Thursday, didn't interview for the job that eventually went to Matt Williams last time around.

"We did not talk to Dusty last time we went through the process," Rizzo explained during Baker's introductory press conference.

"This time we needed to get ourselves an established manager with a deep resume and a guy that had a history of winning. We feel comfortable that we got the best guy that we could have gotten."

"Last time I really didn't want the job," Baker said Thursday. "But I wanted to let people know that I was still interested in being in baseball.

"The reason I didn't want the job is because Matt Williams had already talked to me about different things and Matt was one of my prized pupils when I was a batting coach and the manager.

"I was glad that they didn't offer me the job because I didn't want to cut Matt out. The main reason I contacted the Nationals was just to show people that I was not retired."

Williams lasted just two seasons in his first full-time job as a manager outside of a short stint in the Arizona Fall League, so the Nationals were back in the market for a manager again, and finally got their man in Baker, after negotiating with Bud Black and failing to agree on a deal.

There were widespread rumors Black got the job, to the point that Baker thought he'd lost out, though he never heard that from the Nationals, who actually called to ensure him he was still in the running before he was eventually hired.

"It is a really important day for the Nationals," Rizzo said as he introduced Baker.

"When you look harder and dig deeper and you watch the man navigate nine innings of a baseball game, it is truly something to watch when you're really looking in-depth." -Mike Rizzo on hiring Dusty Baker as the Nats' manager

"It is a day that we were really looking forward to, going forward and moving forward with a man of great leadership qualities like Dusty. A man with his impeccable résumé, the way he handles players, the success-rate he's had with other stops. He's hoping for bigger and better things than he's ever had here in Washington, D.C.

"His strengths are plentiful. He does everything that you need to do to be a successful manager," Rizzo added.

"From game preparation -- he's famous for handling of players and handling of the clubhouse and that type of thing.

"But when you look harder and dig deeper and you watch the man navigate nine innings of a baseball game, it is truly something to watch when you're really looking in-depth.

"It's a person who I've really loved from afar, didn't know very well up close, but knew a lot of people, we have a lot of mutual friends. I am extremely close and played with his former pitching coach, Bryan Price, who raved about his Xs and Os and implementation of a game plan, of an advanced plan.

"He's often described as an old school, dinosaur-type of a manager but yet was 13th in shifting in Major League Baseball in his last year as a manager. He's really come -- as far as in his career -- he's always been a creative thinker, he's always been an outside the box thinker. He is certainly not a manage-by-the-numbers type of manager, but he should get far more credit for what he does in-between the lines and in the dugout as he does for how he handles the clubhouse, which is impeccably, and we couldn't be happier to have Dusty in the dugout for us."

Baker's returning to the majors after two years off. He was asked Thursday about adapting to the changes in the game and what will be different now than it was in his previous three managerial jobs.

"Well, I was pretty good before, I thought. Adaptation is no problem for me because my friends call me a chameleon because they think I can adapt any place, any time and anywhere.

"I would like to think I transcend different generations like some musicians. I mean, Stevie Wonder still sounds good. The Doors might sound even better. I believe in old morals and ideas but you translate them in modern ways so that they can understand."