SAN FRANCISCO – 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.