Dusty Baker took care of the day-to-day business with the Washington sports writers before getting to what it felt like to return to a city he worked in for six seasons and expressed surprise the Reds felt the need to tear down the team that was successful under his leadership..
Baker was the Reds' manager from 2008 through the 2013 seasons, winning division titles in 2010 and 2012 and making the playoffs as a Wild Card team in 2013. Baker was 508-463 (.523) as Reds' manager but was fired at the end of the 2013 season, a week after the Reds lost the wild card game to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a year on his contract.
Baker was surprised by the changes in the team personnel.
"I was surprised there was a need to break it up so thoroughly, sort of," Baker said. "We were close. But they can do what they want to do with their system. I'm very happy where I am. I like DC. I didn't know what it would be like when I got there. I like to thank the Lerners (Washington's owners) and Bob Miller for recommending me to them."
Miller is the Nationals' Vice President and Assitant General Manager. He was with the Reds in that same capacity from 2006 through 2014.
His return to Cincinnati seemed odd after his tenure here.
"It was a little strange, riding the bus yesterday," said Baker, whose team arrived Thursday morning after a night game Wednesday in Philadelphia. "It was a little different. It helped some that I came to the Freedom Center last winter. I got to see some changes and some people that I knew. I knew a lot of people here that were good to me. Some people that I saw yesterday. People were telling me, hey, we miss you. It started me thinking of way back when an old girlfriend told me they missed me after she broke up with me. When she told me I wasn't so bad, after all."
Baker didn't get a chance to visit with Reds' players because the Reds played in Colorado last night and didn't arrive home until 5:00 am. The home team that usually reports by 4:00 pm was given until 5:00 pm to get dressed today and didn't take batting practice on the field.
"I haven't seen the players on the field but I saw some of the people in the front office. Dick Williams came by. I helped raise a lot of those guys. Jay Bruce sent me pictures of the new baby. I'm close to Joey Votto. I was the first manager he had for more than a year. I remember when I gave him the firstbase job over Scott Hatteberg."