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Kent believes Baker will bring out best in Nats

2000 NL MVP says his former skipper is 'able to tap into the individual'
MLB.com @ladsonbill24

WASHINGTON -- Former Major Leaguer Jeff Kent expects Dusty Baker to have a successful run as manager of the Nationals. Kent said Baker will bring a comfortable atmosphere, which will allow the players to play the game the right way.

Kent should know. From 1997 to 2002, he flourished with the Giants under Baker, who was then the manager in San Francisco. Kent hit .297 and averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBIs during his six years with the Giants, and he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2000. Kent said it helped that Baker knew Kent's talent level and put him in the middle of the lineup the moment he arrived. According to Kent, it gave him so much confidence on the field.

WASHINGTON -- Former Major Leaguer Jeff Kent expects Dusty Baker to have a successful run as manager of the Nationals. Kent said Baker will bring a comfortable atmosphere, which will allow the players to play the game the right way.

Kent should know. From 1997 to 2002, he flourished with the Giants under Baker, who was then the manager in San Francisco. Kent hit .297 and averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBIs during his six years with the Giants, and he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2000. Kent said it helped that Baker knew Kent's talent level and put him in the middle of the lineup the moment he arrived. According to Kent, it gave him so much confidence on the field.

"Dusty has this unique ability to communicate with different people on different levels," Kent said via telephone. "He is not a guy that's going to treat everybody the same. He is not that guy. … Dusty is able to tap into the individual, make them feel comfortable, make him feel wanted and loved and make him feel appreciated. He will have expectations for him.

"The Nationals have a group of players that are pretty wise guys. Once Dusty establishes that, those guys will be able to work together. Granted, you have a little bit of in-fighting, but that comes with competition. Dusty is going to bring a cohesive atmosphere where guys can feel comfortable and go out and play."

Video: SF@PIT: Kent goes 5-for-5 and hits for the cycle

Kent said Baker simplified the game during Kent's time in San Francisco. For example, before a game, Baker would talk to Kent and say, "Get yourself one thing in the day. Get one hit, make one play, score one run. Just do one thing in the day. You add up your one thing to his one thing and his one thing, you have a really good chance to win."

Because of Baker's words, Kent wanted to accomplish a lot more than one thing on the field.

"That gives you a comfortable atmosphere [to the point where] you may not just get one thing. You may get two, three or four things in a day. I thought that was unique and pretty cool," Kent said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Washington Nationals