The Nationals formally introduced new manager Dusty Baker Thursday morning, the conclusion of a strange and eventful search that led the team through several candidates before winnowing down to two finalists: Baker and former Padres manager Bud Black. Black was reportedly the team’s first choice, but after he and the Nationals could not reach a deal, the 66-year-old Baker emerged again.
We’ll update this post throughout the course of the news conference, scheduled for 11 a.m. at Nationals Park.
10:54 a.m.: The news conference room is packed for Dusty Baker’s conference. Seats at the table are set for Baker and Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo. Among those in attendance: Maryland AD Kevin Anderson, who is a friend of Baker’s.
11:00 a.m.: Dusty Baker walks in with a smile and a wave. Cameras click — “Man, I haven’t heard that in a long time,” Baker said.
11:02 a.m.: Mike Maddux, new pitching coach, is here in the front row, too.
11:04 a.m.: Dusty Baker is here: “My son gave me a whole list of Nationals shirts and jerseys he wanted. It was my wife and my son that really helped me make up my mind to accept and take this job. I knew I had their total blessing, and they knew I had a burning desire” to manage again.
11:07 a.m.: Asked about the amount of talent the Nationals have, Baker said this is his “fourth and final” team, and that he always had to do “more with less.” “I want to do more with more.”
11:11 a.m.: Baker said last week this time, he didn’t think he was still in the running for the job. “Resigned to another disappointment.” Admitted he was surprised he hadn’t been told he didn’t have the job, and now he knows why: “They hadn’t made up their mind.”
11:16 a.m.: “He’s famous for his handling of players…but when you look closer at the man and watch him navigate nine innings of a baseball game” it’s truly something to watch. — Mike Rizzo. Rizzo said now-Reds manager Bryan Price raved about Baker’s X’s and O’s.
11:25 a.m.: Baker said he talked to Mike Maddux a few years ago and Maddux told him he wanted to be on his staff at some time. “He’s done an outstanding job.”
11:31 a.m.: Baker on Harper: “Hey man, this guy can play. I mean, he can really play. I enjoy watching him.” Baker continued to say he isn’t intimidated by stars, because at the end of the day, money doesn’t matter.
11:40 a.m.: Baker’s last answer addresses concerns that he is the second oldest manager in baseball to his old friend Terry Collins. He said sometimes he doesn’t even know how old he is. “I’m not trying to be cocky about it, but I don’t see a lot of dudes out there looking better than me.”