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Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker’s calming influence... Game 5 thoughts and Nats on Baker

Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Trea Turner on Dusty Baker and Dusty Baker on where the name “Dusty” came from...

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

How big an influence has Dusty Baker had on the 2016 Washington Nationals, who took the NL East crown and are now one win away from their first trip to the NLCS?

Jayson Werth and third baseman Anthony Rendon talked about calming influence the 67-year-old skipper has on his team when both spoke to reporters after Washington’s win over the LA Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS.

“I think it's just a more relaxed environment,” Rendon explained. “He doesn't put too much pressure on us, if any at all, because I feel like he knows what we're going through. He's just been a great life for this team and this year, so it's been fun to play with him and behind him.”

“He's a pretty warm guy,” Werth added. “He's always got friends around. He's got people in and out of the clubhouse.

“We were in San Francisco and he brings Willie Mays in the clubhouse for it felt like a couple hours just to hang out.

“He's always keeping it light, and like I say, he's real generous and warm. It's been refreshing.”

It’s not just the veterans like Werth and Rendon, however, who’ve been praising the environment in Baker’s clubhouse. One of the rookies too said the Nationals’ success this season has had a lot to do with the manager.

“I think a big part of that is Dusty,” Trea Turner told reporters before Game 4 in LA.

“He's done a good job of keeping us relaxed. Obviously he wants to win. We all want to win. But at the same time, if you try too hard or stress out or whatever it may be, it's going to speed up on you and not go your way.

“It's a combination of [Ryan] Zimmerman, Werth, [Daniel] Murphy from last year, and Dusty corralling everybody and letting everybody know that we are always in it no matter what, and I think that's relaxing in the sense that even if you're down by a few runs, it's not a big deal. Just continue doing what you've been doing all year and you've got a shot.”

That feeling of calm carries over from the clubhouse to the dugout, Werth explained, allowing the Nationals to remain relaxed even when the pressure builds.

“This team, we're tough. We're resilient,” Werth said. “This team knows how to win. We've been here before.

“Our dugout, like [Rendon] said, it's relaxed. That's a pretty good environment to play in.”

“There's going to be a lot of emotions just throughout the playoffs,” Rendon said.

“You've got to hone those emotions and stay within yourself and not let those emotions get the best of you, so we've done a great job doing that.”

Werth also talked before the second of two games in Los Angeles, about the position that the Nationals were in with two opportunities to wrap up the series, and what, if anything, he told his teammates going into the game.

“I don't feel like I need to tell these guys anything,” he said. “Like I said, this team is battle-tested and playoff-tested. We know what we need to do. I mean, it's a young team, but it's not a young team. We've got a lot of guys that have played in a lot of games, so there's not a lot that needs to be said.”

Will Dusty Baker have an inspirational speech planned for his team going into Game 5?

How will the Nationals respond to the pressure of the win-or-go-home nature of the game?

We’ll find out in about four hours now... if you’re feeling stressed now, let Dusty Baker calm you down with a story about how Johnnie B. Baker came to be known as Dusty:

Reporter: Why do they call you Dusty. Were you too fast when you were a youngster in Riverside?

Dusty Baker: “Yeah, I was pretty fast. But they call me Dusty because we had a big backyard that my dad planted, had grass everywhere. It was like a football field, and then there was one dirt spot in the middle and that's where I seemed to like to play. My mom didn't want to call me Dirty, so she called me Dusty (laughter).

“And then everybody in my family, the only thing they have called me is Dusty my whole life. The only guys that call me Johnny are guys that I went to elementary and junior high school with that the teacher won't call you by your nicknames. So if somebody calls me Johnny B, it kind of gets my attention. If they call me Dusty, I just wave.”

If that’s not enough, here’s what Baker said today about his emotions going into Game 5 of the NLDS: