Baker returns to Bay Area leading Reds in playoffs, 10 years after coming close with Giants

Minus his old signature toothpick, Cincinnati's Dusty Baker leaned against the batting cage intently watching his players just as he did for a decade managing the Giants.

Baker is back in the Bay Area for the playoffs, 10 years after he came so close to winning a World Series with San Francisco. These days, he is conserving energy after a recent 11-game absence because of a mini-stroke.

Sometimes Baker still feels the sting of that near-miss, even now, two managerial stops removed from his first career gig as a skipper in the place he has long called home.

On Saturday, Baker figures to be cheered by fans at AT&T Park who still love him — "some of 'em," he quipped — when the Reds open the playoffs against the Giants.