CHICAGO – The hospitalization of Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker in Chicago this week highlights the unseen physical demands of major league managers.
Baker, 63, made it to his 3,000th career game as manager on Tuesday night, but before his 3,001st game could even begin, he was taken to the hospital for what was originally supposed to be a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia. It was instead discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat.
Baker stayed in the hospital Wednesday night and is expected to remain there again Thursday night before flying home to Cincinnati on Friday. It is not known if he will return to the bench Friday when the Reds play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs’ Dale Sveum, who isn’t even at the end of his first season as a manager, was asked about the pressures of the job.
“It’s a demanding job there is no question about it,” Sveum said. “Whatever health issues we all have you never take your health for granted. But all our prayers and everything go out, and hopefully everything is good with Dusty because he’s a great guys and the rest of this year will be important for him to be around and healthy.”
Reds bench coach Chris Speier, who has taken over for Baker the past two games, sees the stresses first hand but still aspires to be a major league manager one day.
“I was kidding him that no wonder you have heart problems,” Speier said. “But all kidding aside, there are a lot of things that go into it. I think anybody that has been involved in baseball – I’ve been in it close to 40 years – you always look forward to these types of opportunities (to manage) but it takes a special man and a special breed to do it especially as long as Dusty has done it and how successful he’s been.”
Despite Baker’s heart scare, the reds still managed to win Wednesday night’s game in extra innings.
“I worry about Dusty,” Speier said. “Everybody at this time of the year is a little beat up is a little tired, but I don’t think you really understand the scope of being mentally tired that affects the physical tired because of the managing job. He’s done it for so long and is used to it but I was thinking about it last night that ‘Wow, he’s done this for 3,000 games.’”
After his first 162 games, Sveum wil make it a point ot get away for a while.
"There will be some decompressing time, there is no question about it," Sveum said. "I think we all have to kick back and relax for a while and get away from it. There will be that point where you start grinding all over again come November and December and obviously after the first of the year everything will get kicked in again. But you have to find an outlet and kick back a while."