by Jay Scott Smith–The Grio.com
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker could rejoin his team in time for the start of the MLB Playoffs next week after suffering a stroke in Chicago last week. Baker suffered the “mini stroke” as he was being released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital where was being treated for an irregular heartbeat last Friday.
“I guess on the way out he was feeling pretty good, he was leaving, and he had some slurred speech,” Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo said to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I guess they diagnosed a real minor, slight stroke. They said they see it all the time with that kind of irregular heartbeat.”
Baker, 63, fell ill last Wednesday while the Reds were in Chicago for a three-game series against the Cubs. According to the Chicago Tribune, he received immediate treatment, the effects of the stroke were minimized and Baker returned to Cincinnati on Sunday, where he has made nearly a full recovery.
“While at Wrigley Field I was blessed to have our trainer, Paul Lessard, have the good sense to call in Cubs team physician Dr. Stephen Adams, who examined me in the clubhouse, immediately determined how serious my condition was and personally rushed me to Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” Baker said in a statement. “My family and I are very grateful for the support we’ve received the past few days from Mr. Castellini and our ownership group, (General Manager) Walt [Jocketty], our friends, the baseball family and especially Reds fans.” Baker spent 19 seasons in the majors, from 1968-1986, with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland A’s. Baker was a member of two World Series teams as a player, including the 1981 World Champion Dodgers. In his 20th season as a manager, Baker has won 1,576 games with the Giants, Cubs, and Reds. He has won five division championships and one National League Pennant – 2002 with the Giants. He will make his sixth postseason appearance this season.
Baker addressed the Reds at batting practice on Tuesday and could return as soon as next Monday for the final three game series of the regular season against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his absence, bench coach Chris Speier managed the team as they clinched the National League Central Division title – their second in the last three years – last Saturday in a 6-0 win over the Dodgers.
“Chris Speier and my staff are doing a terrific job,” Baker said. “I’m feeling much better, and it’s great being back here in Cincinnati. I look forward to getting back to the dugout.”