Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Friday afternoon about getting to know the Washington Nationals as Spring Training gets underway in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
After two years away from the game, the 66-year-old skipper discussed what he is looking for in the first few days of his new gig.
"Well this week, basically," Baker explained, "get to know my staff, to get our responsibility together, to get to know the players.
"When you're coming in as the new guy, you've got six weeks to try to learn about a guy as a player and a person and try to get it together as soon as possible without rushing at the same time."
Baker talked about what kind of camp he'll run and what his players can expect from the veteran of twenty years on the bench as a major league manager.
"It's regimented. I think guys like regimentation, but it's free-flowing at the same time. I like things to run on time. I'm a big stickler on time and promptness. And you don't have to be here all day to accomplish your goal, which is no.1 to get in shape and no.2 get in shape both mentally and spiritually and also I try to run a camp where I try to be firm but fair and let guys be themselves."
The Nationals will, of course, be sorting some things out as well, like the position battle at short, with Danny Espinosa, Stephen Drew and Trea Turner all competing for the job.
Baker was asked what, if anything, he knew about the three infielders and what would go into the decision?
"I'm wide open," he said. "I'm going into it with eyes wide open because I hadn't seen Drew in years and I hadn't seen Turner, [who] I'm very excited to see play, because I was a young player like him at some point in time also and I haven't seen [Danny] Espinosa play short at all. I remember him from second base, so like I said, this is kind of new for me. I want to see with my own eyes and I'm going into it with my eyes wide open and we want to take the best 25 that we can.
.@dbaker_12 taking it all in at practice this morning. #NatsSpring #ItAllStartsHere pic.twitter.com/6ZKgNGLR3Y— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 20, 2016
"That's why we're here for Spring Training, but I try not to use just Spring Training as a deciding factor on who to keep either because I've got to use background. Some guys may be a slow starter. Some guys are fast starters.
"Generally speaking, if an older and younger player compete only on Spring Training alone, usually the younger player wins because it takes him less time, it's like a new car to get warm versus an older car that takes a little time to warm up."
"My car might take a couple months," Baker joked.
Part of his responsibility, he explained, is to not only help his players prepare for the regular season but also evaluate talent as things sort themselves out over the next six weeks.
"My job is not only as a manager," he said. "My job is to be a master scout on what I think and what I project he might be along with everybody else in this organization because there are people in this organization that know the guys better than me. Start from [GM Mike] Rizzo and [Assistant GM] Bob [Miller] and the batting coach [Rick Schu] and on down. [Assistant GM] Adam Cromie. All these guys they know them better, so I've just got to take my time and see."