Baker recovering from minor stroke suffered Friday
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CINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker revealed on Tuesday that he suffered a "mini-stroke" on Friday while he was being discharged from a Chicago hospital.
The Reds do not plan on having Baker back in the dugout until, possibly, next week's final regular-season series at St. Louis. In a statement, the club said that Baker's neurologist and cardiologist expect him to make a full recovery.
Baker, 63, was initially admitted to the hospital last Wednesday and diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, also known as an irregular heartbeat. After he suffered the stroke, he was immediately treated by Northwestern Memorial Hospital's stroke team, which minimized its effects.
"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 released by the Reds. "Dr. [Joseph] Broderick and Dr. [Dean] Kereiakes are going to make sure I'm ready to handle the duties of managing before I return full time."
Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo noted that Baker had the good fortune of already being at the hospital when the stroke symptoms started to occur.
"He was leaving, and he had some slurred speech and they diagnosed him with a real minor, slight stroke," Arroyo said. "Luckily the team was right there, they got right after it. It was obviously a situation where if the same events would have occurred and maybe we were on the plane, then it would have been a lot worse. ... We're going to have him back, which is nice to know."
Baker was discharged from the hospital and returned to Cincinnati on Sunday. He visited Great American Ball Park that night and was back briefly on Tuesday afternoon to hold a meeting with his team in the clubhouse.
"He just wanted us to hear it from his own mouth," center fielder Drew Stubbs said. "We're just all glad he is doing fine now. We're looking forward to getting him back."
Bench coach Chris Speier will continue to manage the team at least through this weekend's series at Pittsburgh. Speier was managing his sixth straight game for Baker as Cincinnati hosted the Brewers on Tuesday.
"He did come down and address the team and looked great," Speier said. "He lost a lot of water weight. He's anxious, but again, it's one of those situations where I know today that I'm going to manage tonight, and I'll probably manage, at this point, probably through Pittsburgh."
"He looked like he was in good spirits," Arroyo said. "He looks good, like he went on a diet for the past two months. I guess he was holding a lot of water with the irregular heartbeat, so they had given him some lasix and some different things and he got all the water out of his system, so his ankles were back to normal size and it looks like he went to Jenny Craig. He looks good. They just want him to rest a little bit more, but he feels like he's good to go now. They just want to be cautious with it now."
Baker managed his 3,000th career game one week ago. His hospitalization prevented him from being present for the celebration when the Reds clinched the National League Central title. He has received an outpouring of well wishes from players and the baseball community in recent days.
That included Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who said he spoke on the phone with Baker earlier in the day.
"He sounded great," said Roenicke, who was a young Dodgers prospect in the '70s when he met Baker in his prime as a player and found an influential mentor once he broke into the Majors in 1981.
Roenicke is well aware of the stresses that come with the job.
"He's been doing it a long time, he's got a great temperament for it, the players enjoy playing for him," Roenicke said. "So for him, it's certainly not as stressful as for some other people."
Despite the positive prognosis for Baker, Reds players are faced with the possibility of going to the NL Division Series minus Baker's presence on the bench.
"It definitely would be a little strange going into the battle of playoff time without your skipper that you've had for the last five years," Arroyo said.
In his statement, Baker expressed his appreciation.
"My family and I are very grateful for the support we've received the past few days from Mr. [Bob] Castellini and our ownership group, Walt [Jocketty], our friends, the baseball family and especially Reds fans," Baker said. "I'm feeling much better, and it's great being back here in Cincinnati. Chris Speier and my staff are doing a terrific job, and I look forward to getting back to the dugout."