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Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker's love movement: Providing support and understanding

Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker has talked in recent weeks about helping his players work through rough periods and slumps by providing support and understanding. Positive vibes, love and understanding...

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Felipe Rivero's recent implosion in San Diego's Petco Park was the culmination of rough stretch for the 24-year-old reliever in which he gave up 10 hits, six walks and 14 runs, 13 earned, in just 5 ⅓ innings pitched.

In what ended up a 7-3 loss to the Padres, Rivero took the mound with a 3-1 lead and gave up back-to-back singles, a walk and a two-run double to the first four batters he faced.

"Instead of us getting on him, let's pull for him and send him some positive vibes, you know what I mean. He's a potential All-Star." -Dusty Baker earlier this month on supporting Jonathan Papelbon

An intentional walk loaded the bases back up, but Rivero got a weak grounder back to the mound for what should have been a 1-2-3 DP.

The southpaw bobbled the ball, however, and threw it by home, allowing the go-ahead run to score before he was lifted.

Rivero gave up three hits and two walks without recording an out. In the end, six runs scored, five earned.

"He's in a bad state right now where nothing is really going his way," Dusty Baker told reporters after the loss.

Asked how to fix what was ailing the second-year southpaw, Baker said it wasn't an easy question to answer.

"We've all been talking to him and trying to put him in a positive state of mind," he explained.

"If I knew what to do then I'd bottle it and he wouldn't have gone this far. So we've got to just give him some support and give him some love basically, and say, 'Hey, man, we're with you,' and then the rest is up to him."

Baker also showed faith in Rivero, putting him back out on the mound a day later for a scoreless inning of work against the Padres.

"He needed a very positive outing," Baker said.

"He threw the ball well today. When a guy has a tough outing, I like to get him right back out there so they don't stew or it festers in their mind about that bad outing.

"So, I'm glad that I got a chance to get him back out there."

"We've got to give him some love, because right now he's probably feeling like the loneliest guy on Earth." -Dusty Baker on Michael A. Taylor's rough night vs the Dodgers

He took the same positive approach when discussing Michael A. Taylor's struggles in the series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Taylor went 0 for 5 with five strikeouts at the plate, then misplayed a grounder to center for what ended up a walk-off error that gave the Dodgers a sweep of the three-game set in LA.

"It was a tough day for Michael, period," Baker said.

"It was probably one of the toughest day that he'll remember probably the rest of his career because we've all had them.

"It was a very tough day. I think he struck out five times and I'm sure he feels terrible and we've got to stay with him, we've got to give him some love, because right now he's probably feeling like the loneliest guy on Earth."

Baker didn't pull the 25-year-old aside or say anything immediately after the game.

"You leave him alone for a while," he explained. "You don't want to hear any words of encouragement. You don't want to hear anything from anybody. So, no you don't do that. You leave him alone and then you talk to him on the plane.

"I'm sure the guys out there have said -- there is always a period, I mean, everybody is going to be the hero and everybody is going to be the goat sometimes. And this is a tough day for Michael, but you've got to learn from it."

Taylor's tough day against the Dodgers interrupted what's actually been a solid stretch for the outfielder, who was 17 for 50 (.340/.365/.560) at the plate even after the five-K day in LA. How will he react?

Baker told reporters that the support of his teammates will go a long way.

"Every veteran out there has been through this and has had a day like this, and so you call upon the [Jonathan] Papelbons and [Daniel] Murphys and Jayson Werth and Zimmerman, these guys, to give Michael some comfort.

"And this is what a team is all about. One of your teammates is ailing, you don't give them sympathy, you give them understanding."