Wrigley fans won't let Baker forget

Wrigley fans won't let Baker forget

Cubs fans clearly aren't willing to forgive or forget Reds manager Dusty Baker.

The Cubs' skipper from 2003-06, Baker was booed when he emerged from the visitors' dugout to make pitching changes on Tuesday. He had no mid-inning pitching changes on Wednesday.

"I don't really understand it," Cubs first baseman and Baker friend Derrek Lee told Chicago reporters on Tuesday night. "I don't know why he's getting booed. I don't know what he did to still be getting booed here."

This is the third season Baker has been away from the Cubs. Will there ever come a time when the Wrigley Field faithful can let it go and move on?

"They probably won't," Baker conceded on Wednesday. "They still talk about [former managers] Leo Durocher here and Lee Elia. Hey, I've come to expect it."

Baker guided the Cubs to the playoffs his first season in 2003 but finished 322-326 in Chicago. That included a 66-96 season in '06 before he was replaced by Lou Piniella.

"It wasn't his fault," Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "I mean, nobody could manage that team we got in [2006]. We got guys coming from Double-A. [Carlos] Marmol was a starter. We got [Juan] Mateo. You guys don't even remember him, probably. We just had a bad team, and it's not his fault. If you give Dusty a good team, I guarantee he'll be in the playoffs, too."

Baker wasn't the only former Cub to draw some ire from the fans. On Tuesday in a pinch-hitting appearance, Jerry Hairston Jr. was also booed.

A Chicago native, Hairston played for the Cubs in the subpar 2005-06 seasons and also has a heritage with the cross-town rival White Sox, where his father, Jerry Sr., and grandfather Sammy once played.

"That's just their way of saying hello. I was remembered, right?" Hairston joked.

Like Lee and Ramirez, Hairston felt Baker was blamed for circumstances that were largely out of his control.

"Dusty won playoff games here for them. I know the last couple of years were tough. The teams I was on were littered with injuries -- [Mark] Prior, [Kerry] Wood, D-Lee -- our best player -- and Nomar [Garciaparra] got hurt. That wasn't Bake's fault.

"I think they're just bitter in general. They feel like they're owed something. I remember when Cubs fans were just happy going to the games, taking it in and having fun. Ever since the Cubs went to the playoffs and haven't won a World Series in 100 years, they really got a sense of entitlement that they're owed a championship."

While his former fan base feels otherwise, Baker maintains no hard feelings toward Chicago.

"Ain't nothing is going to spoil my joy and pleasure of life. Nothing. Nobody," Baker said. "I have a beautiful family, a beautiful job, a beautiful life, a beautiful house. It's beautiful. And I'm healthy."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Aaron Harang (1-2, 2.70 ERA)
During a 7-0 loss to the Astros on Saturday, Harang was charged with five earned runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings. He walked one and struck out six. Nine of the hits were singles, many of them grounders that squeaked through holes. The pitcher was visibly frustrated with his lack of success and bad luck. Harang is 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 19 career games against the Cubs but was 0-3 with a 6.29 ERA last season in four starts.

CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21 ERA)
Zambrano's final line wasn't pretty on Friday against St. Louis. He gave up three homers and seven earned runs but also lasted seven innings to help give his bullpen some relief. Throughout his career, Zambrano has pitched well against Cincinnati, going 14-9 with a 3.03 ERA and holding the Reds to a .219 average.

Reds notes
Jay Bruce has home runs in back-to-back games for the fifth time in his career. Bruce went deep to left-center field in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 3-0 win. ... Francisco Cordero notched his 100th National League save and is the 11th pitcher in Major League history to convert 100 saves in both the NL and American League. He has 217 saves overall.

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Up next
• Friday: Reds (Edinson Volquez, 2-1, 6.46) vs. Braves (Javier Vazquez, 1-1, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 3-0, 4.19) vs. Braves (Derek Lowe, 1-1, 3.27), 1:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Reds (Micah Owings, 0-2, 5.59) vs. Braves (TBD), 1:10 p.m. ET

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.