"What kind of factor can it be?" Baker said. "Like I've said before, how many people have a one-year contract, period? You know how many times I've been in this situation? I've been in it four, five or six times, whatever it is. You just have to keep proving yourself I guess. Some people do and some people don't. I'm one of the guys that seems like he has to, to keep proving myself.
"At this point, very little bothers me. I'm secure in myself, secure in my ability, secure in my family, secure in my life."Now an elder statesman of the league, Baker is fourth in tenure with the same NL team, behind the Padres' Bud Black, the Giants' Bruce Bochy and the Phillies' Charlie Manuel. With 1,484 wins over 18 seasons, Baker is second on the all-time victories list among active managers, behind Jim Leyland of the Tigers. "How many people have the opportunity and ability to stick around that long?" Baker said. "Evidently, it doesn't mean much to some people, but it means a lot to me. I remember year No. 1. I've had some great years, some bad years, some years of ups and downs. It boils down to the more talent you have, the better your chances are." Baker did not have the most enjoyable of offseasons after having minor surgeries on a knee and elbow that kept him from hunting or fishing for six weeks. He also endured some personal losses. "I had a good friend die this winter, a couple of them," Baker said. "I had a good friend's son die a week ago here, in a trampoline accident. You ask me if I am going to do anything differently, if I'm worried ... when that happens, it puts things in the proper perspective."