Baker spends time with Reds' top pick
Manager uses suspension to get to know Grandal
PHOENIX -- For Major League managers, especially those embroiled in pennant races, summer Draft choices are definitely deferred issues. They simply don't have time or opportunity to deal with the kids in the now.Dusty Baker thus had a unique experience last week. His suspension resulting from Tuesday's little disagreement with the Cardinals gave him the time, and he turned it into the opportunity to hang out with Yasmani Grandal, the No. 1 pick who beat Monday's midnight ET deadline to sign a Major League contract with the Reds. During his meet-and-greet visit to Cincinnati, Grandal took in a pair of games in Great American Ball Park in the suite company of Baker. "He seemed strong physically. A well-mannered, well-schooled young man," said Baker, giving his impression of the 21-year-old catcher. "But I had trouble getting him to talk." Baker tried. What do you ask while watching a game unfold alongside a catcher? "I tried to get into his thought process," Baker said. "I quizzed him about his knowledge. Like I would ask him, 'What would you throw in this situation?'" Grandal signed a Major League contract and was immediately placed on the Reds' 40-man roster, then assigned to the organization's Rookie league team. The University of Miami product seems on the fast track to the Majors, but whether Baker will get to manage him is less certain. Baker is in the final weeks of his three-year contract with the Reds, and recently received the club's offer of an extension. But he is delaying a response, saying that his total focus is on leading the Reds across the wire to their first postseason appearance since 1995. However, the Baker camp also realizes that his latest rebuilding job with the Reds puts him in a very strong position for an offseason that is anticipated to feature a record turnover among managers, with as many as 10 vacancies expected.
Reds make tough call to send down Fisher
PHOENIX -- The decision on creating roster space for Thursday night's starter, Travis Wood, in a sense came down to one question:Send Mike Leake away from his adopted home, or keep Carlos Fisher from getting to his real home? Reds manager Dusty Baker made what for him was the tougher call: Fisher, a native of a Los Angeles bedroom community, is headed to Louisville while the rest of the team heads for Dodger Stadium. Leake remained in the bullpen -- Wood took over his spot in the rotation -- with a chance to take the mound in Chase Field, a short drive from the Arizona State campus where the San Diego native had earned No. 1 Draft choice status. "It would've been nice to get a chance to start here, but what can you do?" Leake asked rhetorically. "I could still get to pitch here, so you never know." A native of West Covina, Fisher will have to wait for 2011 for his next chance to pitch in front of family and friends in Dodger Stadium. "He'll be back as a September callup, but it was tough because this is our only trip to Los Angeles, and it's tough to tell your family you're not coming home," Baker said. "Every player likes to go home and play there, especially when it's L.A., when it's Dodger Stadium." Fisher was optioned to Louisville in the afternoon while Wood was concurrently recalled from the Triple-A club to start the series finale against the D-backs. Fisher began his third stint of the season with the Reds on Aug. 7, when he replaced disabled veteran righty Russ Springer. In his only appearance since his latest promotion, Fisher hurled 3 1/3 innings of two-hit shutout ball against the Cardinals on Aug. 9. Overall, the 27-year-old Californian has a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances with the Reds. He was more prevalent in Cincinnati's bullpen last season -- appearing in 39 games -- and those did include a two-inning shutout stint on July 20 in Dodger Stadium. On practical grounds, Leake stayed because "he's been here all year, and he's contributed," according to Baker. The manager added, "I think [Leake] will be excellent in that [long relief] situation. He warms up quickly. Plus, you don't have to burn him for a pinch-hitter because he is a good hitter."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.