10/24/2002 7:48 pm ET
MLBeat: Spotlight on the skipper
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker awoke Thursday morning and allowed himself to think briefly about the fact that this could be his last home game as manager of the Giants.
"You just think about what's going to happen, what could happen and you think about your first day managing," he said. "And then you say, 'Could this or will it be your last day managing [at home]? Then it quickly leaves your mind and you go on to something else."
While Baker's future remains uncertain, Thursday's Game 5 of the World Series was his final game at Pacific Bell Park in 2002.
Yet if you read between the lines from general manager Brian Sabean's pregame comments Thursday, it seems hard to imagine a Giants team without Baker at the helm next season. Sabean said his manager is a major reason why so many players want to play for the Giants, because unlike other skippers, Baker does not have a "doghouse." Sabean also made clear that he appreciates his own relationship with Baker as much as any.
"I think he's done a great job every year," he said. "I think the best job that he always does is he never complains and he never makes my job that hard. A lot of guys are on the phone saying, 'Get this guy ... out of here' or 'Where's my left-handed reliever?' or 'Can't we do something about this.'"
"He's never done that and that's really I think the bottom line, as long as he's doing what he can possibly do with the group you've given him, to have them play hard and be in the best position to win, I don't know what more you could ask for."
Sabean also clarified the role of president and managing general partner Peter Magowan in the club's day-to-day baseball operations.
"What a lot of people don't know is that Peter is available, our ownership is very committed and involved to a certain extent, but they're not meddlesome," he said. "Peter's in [the office] every day but his code with us is, 'You know what the parameters are, we trust your judgment, just don't surprise us ...'
"When you have people in positions like myself and Dusty that have autonomy and authority, it's pretty powerful because nobody's micromanaging your job and that way you can be your own person. ... The players aren't stupid; they know when [a decision is] coming from the owner or from the general manager. If the manager is not happy, they're pretty well knowing the reasons why."
Magowan reiterated his stance on the situation Thursday as well.
"It's not up to me," he said, admitting that he plans to sit down and clear the air with Baker. "It's up to the GM."
If that's true, the deal is done. But with published reports stating that Oakland manager Art Howe and Seattle skipper Lou Piniella have already agreed to terms with the Mets and Devil Rays, respectively, the managerial openings with the Mariners and Cubs will remain a hot topic until the day Baker re-signs with the Giants.
Santiago comes through: Lost among the hit parade Thursday night was Benito Santiago's single in the second inning, the second straight night he followed an intentional walk to Barry Bonds with a hit.
"I love it," he said. "Let's keep walking this guy and giving me the bases loaded so I can do some damage."
Santiago also added a sacrifice fly for three RBIs on the night, helping him get a good night's rest.
"It's a lot easier for me when we win like this," he said. "I don't have to think that much behind the plate. ... When it's a close game, it seems like each time I put my sign down, I just have to concentrate so much. Sometimes you go home with a headache."
Rose in Cooperstown? Baker shared several stories Thursday with the Bay Area media regarding Pete Rose's kind treatment of the young players like Baker and Ralph Garr when they came up to the big leagues. He referred to the ovation Rose got during Wednesday's pregame ceremonies as "a pretty righteous act," and added his name to the list of people that believe Rose should be reinstated and
eligible for the Hall of Fame at some point.
"I'd like to see [him in there]," said Baker. "They have exonerated and forgiven people that have done a lot worse than whatever he did do. We've got to forgive at some point and move on."
Game 7 starter: Baker continues to tout Livan Hernandez as his starter in a potential seventh game of the World Series, but has not ruled out bringing back Kirk Rueter on three days of rest if Hernandez pitches sometime in Game 5 or 6.
Baker recalled bringing back Rueter on three-days' rest last April when he employed a four-man rotation. Rueter pitched 6 1/3 innings, gave up three runs and earned a victory, but that was at the beginning of a season.
"Everybody's a lot stronger then than they are now," said Baker.
Bonds wins Aaron award: Barry Bonds received one of the many awards likely to be bestowed upon the left fielder this season when he won the Hank Aaron Award as the best overall hitter in the National League.
The award, introduced in 1999, was voted upon by the play-by-play and color announcers for the 30 Major League teams. Bonds led all players with 254 points.
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. MLB.com's John Schlegel contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.