Dusty Baker said before the All-Star Break that he was happy for all five Washington Nationals who were picked to appear in the Midsummer Classic, and wasn’t worried about the Nationals’ All-Stars traveling to Miami, FL and playing instead of getting much-needed rest over the break.
“I always want them to get the accolades they deserve,” Baker said. “They definitely deserve to go to the All-Star game.”
Coming back for the second-half, however, the 68-year-old veteran of 22 seasons on the bench in the majors, said he was also determined to make sure his All-Stars did get time off.
Daniel Murphy got the night off on Friday, in the series opener with the Reds in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, and Baker said he would rest more players as the Nats gets going again in the second-half.
“I’ve just learned over the years, that whoever goes to the All-Star Break, I’ve had Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, I’ve had some of the best come back and start slow because they don’t get that mental and physical day off,” Baker explained.
“So I told Murph he’s off today, and then I’ll probably give [Ryan Zimmerman] off [Sunday] in the day game, and then shortly after that then we’ll probably give [Bryce] Harper a day off, but he’s the youngest so he has to wait the longest.”
Stephen Drew went 1 for 4 with a two-out RBI single filling in for Murphy at second, and Harper homered twice in the Nationals’ 5-0 win over the Reds in the second-half opener on Friday.
Baker was impressed with Harper coming back out the Break swinging and collecting his 21st and 22nd home runs of the 2017 season.
“That was great,” Baker said, “and I told him I was going to give him one of these days off, and he said he really doesn’t need it, and so we gave Murph a day off, we’ll give Zim a day off on Sunday, and we’ll probably give Bryce a day off possibly with those two days, well the one off day, in Anaheim.”
He also talked about his use of the Nats’ bench, and the way his players have stepped up and filled in for their injured or resting teammates throughout the first 89 games.
“We have depth and we’re not afraid to use it,” Baker said.
“And whoever we put out there, we think they’re going to do the job. We’ve lost — what 30% of our starting lineup this year and a couple extra guys after that — but these guys don’t make any excuses, they don’t alibi, they just go play, and this is how you like them to be and I told them in Spring Training the lesser is equal to the greater and everybody in that circle is complete and everybody is important on this ballclub.”