Dusty Baker doing better, likely to be released from hospital
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2012 10:08PM
Center fielder David DeJesus chases after a ball hit by the Reds’ Xavier Paul. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:32AM
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker was to remain in a local hospital for a second night Thursday for observation after undergoing more tests related to an irregular heartbeat, team officials said.
But the former Cubs manager was said to be feeling well and expected to be released and fly home to Cincinnati on Friday to rejoin the team in time for a series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Acting manager Chris Speier said he talked to Baker on Wednesday night, and got an update from one of the manager’s friends Thursday, “everything sounded good,’’ Speier said.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who visited Baker in the hospital Thursday, relayed similar comments through a team spokesman.
Baker, 63, left Wrigley Field before batting practice Wednesday for chest X-rays in an effort to rule out pneumonia after he was examined by the Cubs’ team doctor.
He has a history of irregular heartbeat, team officials said Wednesday night.
Whether he would be allowed to resume managing on Friday was unclear.
“Knowing Dusty, he will,’’ Speier said.
“All our prayers go out, and hopefully everything’s good for Dusty,’’ Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, “because he’s a great guy. And the rest of the year will be very important for him to be around to help his club.’’
The Reds clinched a playoff berth with Thursday’s 5-3 victory against the Cubs and reduced their magic number for clinching a second division title in three years to two.
Cubs starter Jason Berken, claimed off waivers two weeks ago from the Baltimore Orioles for pitching depth when Jeff Samardzija was shut down, still keeps one eye on the surprising O’s — even as he takes advantage of a surprising new opportunity with the Cubs.
“I’m extremely happy for those guys; I’ve got a lot of good friends on that team,’’ Berken said of the contending Orioles after he pitched six two-hit, scoreless innings in a no-decision Thursday.
“I don’t think anybody over there is surprised, including myself,’’ added Berken, who at one point thought he might get a September call-up with the O’s. “I’m very happy to be here, and this opportunity for me is not something I take lightly.
“For me it’s a matter of stringing together a couple more good starts and going into the offseason on a positive note.’’
Already guaranteed of falling short of three million in attendance for the first time in nine years, the Cubs announced their smallest crowd of the season Thursday (25,891).
◆ Berken tied a major-league record held by many in the second inning when he recorded four strikeouts (with the help of a victim reaching on a wild pitch).
◆ Sveum said he took Berken out after the six easy-looking innings and just 86 pitches because it was only the pitcher’s second start after a long layoff and he has no intention of pushing his starters, given the lack of rotation depth.