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Sunday, September 25, 2005
Baker seeks answers for Patterson

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Chicago Cubs: Manager Dusty Baker says he's interested in how a sports psychologist might help struggling center fielder Corey Patterson during the offseason, the Chicago Tribune reported. Baker said he was helped by similar methods when he coped with concentration and relaxation problems as a player.

The Tribune said Baker hasn't discussed the idea with Patterson.

"Everybody is looking for answers and clues," Baker said. "I got to talk to him first. I can't comment on that. I'm not opposed to anything like that. I'm open-minded to stuff like that.

"I was probably one of the first guys that took some relaxation courses in Venezuela in 1974. I even got hypnotized in '78 because I was having trouble concentrating. I was having some problems off the field, and it was affecting my game.

"You have to be careful. That person has to be open to it, No. 1. No. 2, it doesn't need to be a publicity stunt or like a guy is emotionally and mentally off or something. A lot of people aren't as open about it."

Florida Marlins: Outfielder Jeff Conine, who can file for free agency after the World Series, says he would like to return to the Marlins next season.

"I'd like to come back," Conine told the Palm Beach Post. "It's home and I think we're going to have a good team again."

Conine, 38, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, said his agent and the Marlins have not spoken. He is making $3 million this year.

He started the season on the bench, but played his way into a starting role in the second half. If the Marlins don't re-sign right fielder Juan Encarnacion, Conine could start in the outfield next year.

Next year's starting rotation for the Marlins could be bolstered by a healthy Josh Beckett, who has had his most successful season despite two stints on the disabled list, the Palm Beach Post said.

Beckett, who threw seven scoreless innings Friday, will make his final start Wednesday against Washington. He is 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA but more significant he has logged 178 2/3 innings, 22 innings more than his previous high set last season.

Before this year, Beckett had been on the DL seven times in his career, mostly because of finger blisters.

He is expected to anchor next year's rotation with left-hander Dontrelle Willis. The other three rotation spots are up for grabs, with left-hander Jason Vargas a good bet to earn one.