Baker eager to finish season above .500

Baker eager to finish season above .500

DENVER -- Dusty Baker is in his 18th season as a Major League manager, and has done everything from winning a pennant with the 2002 San Francisco Giants to finishing last with the 2006 Chicago Cubs.

In a career that has included 1,476 wins and 1,359 losses, there have been 11 winning seasons and seven losing seasons. And as this one winds to its conclusion, Baker definitely wants it to be his 12th on the plus side of .500 -- as opposed to the alternative.

"It means a lot. I don't like losing," Baker said. "I've had some losing seasons, and I don't like that feeling. You have to get some consolation out of this season. It's a long season to walk away with nothing."

The Reds (71-75) currently are heading for their third losing season in four under Baker -- the exception being last year's 91-71, NL Central-winning finish.

They return home for 10 games, and will finish with six on the road. Of those remaining 16 games, only three are against a team with a winning record (Milwaukee, Sept.16-18).

Since the Reds fell out of contention, Baker has been balancing the desire to win with giving the Reds' younger players an opportunity far from the pennant chase. On Sunday, for instance, veteran Ramon Hernandez was behind the plate for Edinson Volquez's first Major League start since July 5th, and Edgar Renteria started at shortstop, while Chris Valaika and Todd Frazier started at second and third base, respectively.

"I was a September call-up kid, and I was a veteran," Baker said. "I understand the needs and wants of both. I try to balance that the best I can. There's no perfect solution.

"Everybody plays on my team. I think that's why we have some of the best stats pinch-hitting. Everybody gets at-bats. Nobody sits around too long."