07/13/2003 8:15 PM ET
Notes: A good start for Dusty
CHICAGO -- The first half comes to a close with the Chicago Cubs game Sunday night against Atlanta, and Dusty Baker says it's been a good start.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"No matter what has happened, I think it's one of the best decisions I could've made is coming here," said Baker, who took the Cubs job last November. "One good thing is I requested four years instead of three [on his contract]. I wanted to reap the benefits of everybody's hard work, not only for today but for an extended period of time here.
"There's passion here in the city," he said. "I've never seen passion like this. I've never seen this passion for the team. With passion comes love but also comes criticism, too. I think it's awesome. I'm glad to be here. My family is glad to be here."
There is one little catch.
"Everybody said with day games, you get to enjoy the city at night," Baker said. "But with these day games, it's hard for me to stay awake with the 10 o'clock news."
All-Star stuff: Baker finalized the National League starting lineup for Tuesday's game but it will be officially released through Major League Baseball. All Baker would say about his starting pitcher was that he was "tall." That could mean San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, whom Baker has been leaning toward, or either of the Cubs All-Star representatives, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
How time-consuming has this All-Star stuff been?
"It's not time-consuming at all," Baker said. "It's actually been a lot easier than if I had to choose everybody. The fact that I had to choose six guys from six different teams who weren't represented, there went most of my picks there.
"No matter what you have to do, somebody will not get chosen who should be chosen," Baker said. "I don't care how you do it. If you have 50 guys, there's 51 deserving."
"Sammy would've been there if he hadn't missed so many games," Baker said of Sosa, sidelined three weeks with a sore big toe and out another week to serve a suspension for using a corked bat.
Sosa entered Sunday's game with seven homers in nine games and was batting .395 in that stretch. Baker wasn't worried that Sosa would cool off during the break.
"In my mind, he'll pick up where he left off," Baker said.
Overtime pay: Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is spending a lot of time in his Wrigley Field office.
"This guy is eating breakfast here, he's eating dinner here," Baker said of Hendry, who is looking for ways to improve the team. "I just hope he doesn't get sick during this whole ordeal because he's not taking care of himself. When I leave, his truck is out there. When I come in the morning, his truck is out there."
The Cubs could use help at third base and suffered a blow when center fielder Corey Patterson injured his left knee on July 6.
Baby steps: Patterson will get a second opinion on his left knee sometime this week. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament and also the meniscus in his left knee when he landed awkwardly on the first base bag.
"It's hard. You want to be out there," Patterson said of being on the side. "I just have to focus on getting better."
He's not experiencing any pain and seemed rather normal just standing in the clubhouse, wearing nothing more than a wrap on his left knee.
"It's kind of weird," Patterson said. "You figure if you can walk off the field, you're not that bad. Then they tell you you tore your ACL. It's a weird feeling. I can't explain it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.