Dusty visits son at Cal; MMP 100% capacity

May 19th, 2021

Astros manager Dusty Baker has closer ties to the Bay Area than one might think. He managed the San Francisco Giants from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, and in the last three years of his playing career he suited up for both the Giants and the Oakland Athletics. But nearly 20 years after he cut ties with the Bay Area professionally, his son Darren has made his name and talent known for the University of California Berkeley baseball team.

As soon as Houston’s plane landed in the Bay Area Monday night for their three-game series in Oakland that began Tuesday, Baker trekked 20 miles to Palo Alto to catch one of his son’s final college baseball games of the year. The Golden Bears played against Stanford, with the likely future Hall of Fame manager in the stands.

"It was cold when we got off the plane and it was a beautiful 20 miles away down in Palo Alto, and then the sun went down and got back cold again, but they had them five to nothing, then they took the lead and then they went 12 innings,” Baker said of the game. “So, I got kind of sleepy and cold out there. My son had a little tough go yesterday, so it was a tough game but I'm glad I got to see him play."

Darren went 1-for-6 at the plate in the Golden Bears' 7-6 loss to Stanford, though his team-leading batting average is still .327 for the season. Baker fought through the chilly Northern California night to watch his son play the sport they share in common for four and a half hours, even with the Astros scheduled to play for the AL West division lead in less than 24 hours.

"I left as soon as the game was over and he was kind of wondering why I didn't stick around to see him before he got on the bus,” Baker said. “I said, 'I'll call you when I get to the hotel,' because I hadn’t checked in yet. It was cold, man."

Minute Maid Park to 100% capacity
The Astros announced Monday that Minute Maid Park will allow attendance to be at 100% capacity starting next week when the Dodgers head into town. If fans are fully vaccinated, they will not be required to wear a mask.

"You think back on last year, there were cutouts in the stands and there were noise machines ... But it feels good to have people back in the stands,” Baker said. “I still would like to see people wear their mask a little more and still be safer, because the pandemic's not over.”

Since the start of the season, Minute Maid Park has operated at 50% capacity, which has provided the fuel for some of the Astros’ most exciting moments. But getting more fans in their home ballpark will bring more appreciation, as well.

"We're entertainers and we need that certain energy from our fans,” Baker said. “The way things have been going across America, we embrace the love from the fans because we haven't gotten much love on the road.”

Urquidy update
Right-hander José Urquidy tossed on flat ground Tuesday and didn’t feel any pain, according to Baker. Urquidy may pitch off the mound within the next couple of days.

Urquidy is on the 10-day injured list after he experienced right posterior shoulder pain his start against the Angels on Wednesday and was lifted from the game after 3 2/3 innings.