MLB notebook: Nationals hire Baker in effort to right ship
Dusty Baker got another managing job, this time with the Nationals.
And Major League Baseball got another black skipper, something the man in charge of the sport called “encouraging.”
The Nationals announced Baker’s hiring Tuesday, nearly a month after firing Matt Williams when the club missed the playoffs.
With Baker joining the Nationals, baseball avoids what would have been its first start to a season since 1988 with no black managers.
“I am certain that the Nationals, like all of our clubs, hired the best person for the job. It is encouraging that in this case the best person turned out to be African-American,” baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “This is a positive step, and I am intent on making continued progress on diversity in the managerial ranks going forward.”
When the Mariners fired former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon last month, it left no black managers in the major leagues. No season had started without at least one since 1988. In April that year, Frank Robinson replaced Cal Ripken Sr. with the Orioles. Robinson later managed the Nationals.
In the 66-year-old Baker, the Nationals get someone who has worked 20 seasons as a manager in the majors and whose 1,671-1,504 record — a .526 winning percentage — includes the second-most victories among active managers.
The Nationals were said to have settled on hiring former Padres manager Bud Black last week before contract talks broke down.
General manager Mike Rizzo and Baker will hold a news conference Thursday.
Mets extend Collins
Mets manager Terry Collins was rewarded with a two-year contract through 2017 after guiding the team to the World Series, a person familiar with the deal told the AP.
The agreement comes fresh off the Mets’ deep run into the postseason. They lost to the Royals in the clinching Game 5 on Sunday night.
Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson are scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday at Citi Field.
Parade draws 500,000
The world champion Royals basked in the adulation of hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans in a parade and rally that nearly shut down downtown for hours.
After driving a 2.3-mile route in a caravan, team owner David Glass, manager Ned Yost and several of the Royals returned the love by telling fans they could not have captured the World Series without their support and calling the turnout for the celebration “unbelievable” and “amazing.”
City officials estimated 500,000 people attended the events.
The Kansas City Transit Authority said those trying to take public transportation to the celebration endured waits of one- to three-hours. Spokeswoman Cindy Baker said the crowds were “definitely more than we expected,” with a conservative estimate of about 100,000 people being shuttled before the rally, with more after it began. Police spokesman Tye Grant said traffic was so heavy that some drivers parked along the interstate and walked.
Around the league
The Blue Jays exercised 2016 options on sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, while declining an option on infielder Maicer Izturis. … The Cliff Lee era of Phillies baseball came to a quiet end when the team declined the pitcher’s $27.5 million option for next season. … The Red Sox exercised their $13 million option on right-hander Clay Buchholz. … The Tigers declined their $10 million option on reliever Joe Nathan, making the 40-year-old closer eligible for free agency. … Infielder Brendan Ryan exercised his $1 million player option with the Yankees. New York also said it declined its club option on pitcher Andrew Bailey, which was worth $1 million. … The Diamondbacks exercised their options on Brad Ziegler and Josh Collmenter. … Athletics reliever Dan Otero was claimed off waivers by the Phillies.