DUSTY BAKER (Courier Photo/J.L. Martello)
Mr. Baker even walked away from the batting cage to do the interview.
One of the first questions on my list was did his ballclub have revenge on their mind because the Pirates had swept the Reds earlier in the season?
Baker said, “these things [sweeps] happen, they kind of beat on us earlier in the season. Anyway I mean we would have liked to have a early season sweep but right now we want to get back to .500 against them as well as keeping our road record at .500. We’re at .500 now but that series set us back when we came in here and got swept. We started the season at 1-7 and 2-7 on the road. But this is about right now. Right now you gotta beat em because they have a really good team and they [the Pirates] are in the way of our quest for a championship. The reason why our road record has improved is because our guys aren’t walking a lot of people. When you’re not walking people you have a chance to get them out. And we have a strikeout [based] staff. Sometimes pitching gets better just because of the natural progression of the season. When you start the season your pitchers aren’t conditioned to go more than seven innings max. It’s really tough when you leave spring training, you can say and think that your team is ready but most of the time you’re wondering if you’re ready or not.”
We also talked about the Pirates youth and strength but one question remains and that is the question mark about a team once they are put in the pressure cooker of the postseason.
When asked about the recent 2nd half collapses Baker said, “there’s no panic in our team. We have a lot of confidence and it also helps that we have been there before. Our team knows they can play and they know that they are good but they don’t walk around acting all cocky; they just go out and take care of business. They don’t only work hard on the field; they work hard in the weight room and do the right things off the field.”
Recently, Reds outfielder Donald Lutz pinch hit in St. Louis when the Reds played the Cardinals. Lutz became the first German-developed player to appear in a Major League Baseball game. The Reds notes also pointed out that Lutz was the second graduate of the International European Academy to play in the majors the other being IF/OF Alex Liddi of Italy. With the participation of African-Americans being at a decade’s low, I asked the Reds skipper about Mr. Lutz.