Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini couldn’t imagine Dusty Baker leaving.
The 63-year-old manager got a two-year contract extension Monday, giving him another chance to take Cincinnati deep into the playoffs. They’ve been there twice in the past three years, failing both times to get past the division series.
Baker missed the Reds’ NL Central title celebration this year because he was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. He returned and lost ace Johnny Cueto at the start of their series against San Francisco, which ended with the Giants rallying to win Game 5.
“This is Dusty’s team,” Castellini said. “These fellas are poised to go deeper and deeper in the season. To not bring Dusty back or not ask Dusty to come back was out of the question.”
Baker is feeling much better, and the Reds have the nucleus of their 97-win team returning next year, including one of the deepest pitching staffs in the major leagues.
When the club offered another two-year deal – same as the last one – Baker quickly agreed.
“It’s very much the same contract and very much the same thing for all of us up here: There’s work left to be done,” Baker said. “I didn’t want to leave on a note that we still have work to do.
“I don’t want to leave in a situation where for the rest of my life I would have regretted not coming back with unfinished business. It would have left a real pain in my heart to feel the way I did at the end of the season.”
PHILLIES: Hired Wally Joyner to be their assistant hitting coach.
Joyner, a former Atlanta Brave, will assist new hitting coach Steve Henderson.
RATINGS: Television ratings for baseball’s division series are down from last year.
The 18 games on TBS, with all four series going the distance, averaged a 2.4 rating. That’s down 11 percent from the 2.7 for 19 games in 2011, when teams from larger markets made the playoffs. Three of the four series went the full five games last season.
YANKEES: Jerry Girardi, father of New York manager Joe Girardi, was memorialized Monday as a dedicated laborer in front of roughly 100 mourners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Peoria, Ill.