Saturday, September 30, 2006
Baker to hear Monday whether Cubs want him back
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker will find out Monday morning whether the organization wants him back, Chicago general manager Jim Hendry said Saturday.
Baker's four-year contract is expiring, and the Cubs were tied with Pittsburgh for the National League's worst record at 65-95 after Friday's 5-2 loss to Colorado.
"He's been involved in the game in a positive way for a long time," said Hendry, who received a two-year contract extension that runs through 2008 in early April. "He's got a great track record as a player. He's been a good manager for a long time. And I hate to see a lot of the negativity in any way, shape or form. We've all had a hand in the bad season we've had."
Hendry would not say if he has already made a decision.
Baker's job status has been the subject of speculation all year, and the Cubs' announcement in July that he would finish the season did nothing to stop that. On Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times' back page showed Baker's head on a piece of toast popping out of a toaster.
"It disappoints me that someone would waste that much time and space," Baker said.
The Cubs have been ravaged by injuries all season, with key players Derrek Lee, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood missing large chunks of the season. Lee, last year's NL batting champion, has been limited to 49 games while dealing with a broken wrist and, more recently, his 3-year-old daughter's genetic eye disease.
Wood and Prior have a combined two wins in 13 starts and have been injured often since 2003.
Pitcher Glendon Rusch developed a blood clot in his lung, and catcher Michael Barrett needed surgery for bleeding in his scrotum after taking a foul ball in the groin late in the season.
When asked if the organization could have handled Baker's situation better, the manager said, "Maybe."
"It's been a difficult season on all of us," Hendry said. "I did tell [Baker] a long time ago he'd be here the rest of the year and that I would try to make my decision moving forward for the organization quickly after that. I don't know any other way we could have handled it. We've always been up front with him."
A three-time NL manager of the Year, Baker managed the San Francisco Giants to a pennant in 2002 and had the Cubs within five outs of reaching the World Series the following year, before they collapsed in Game 6 of the league championship series against Florida. In 2004, the Cubs were in position for the wild card before fading in the final week. Last season, they finished 79-83.