Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Baker returns to majors as Nationals manager

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker got another managing job, this time with the Nationals. And Major League Baseball got another black skipper, something the man in charge of the sport called "encouraging."

Washington announced Baker's hiring Tuesday, nearly a month after firing Matt Williams when the club missed the playoffs.

With Baker joining the Nationals, baseball avoids what would have been its first start to a season since 1988 with zero black managers.

"I am certain that the Nationals, like all of our clubs, hired the best person for the job. It is encouraging that in this case the best person turned out to be African-American," commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in an email. "This is a positive step and I am intent on making continued progress on diversity in the managerial ranks going forward."

When the Mariners fired Lloyd McClendon last month, it left no black managers in the major leagues. No season had started without at least one since 1988; in April that year, Frank Robinson replaced Cal Ripken Sr. with the Orioles. Robinson later managed the Nationals.

"Dusty Baker is highly qualified, has years of managerial experience and is a proven leader," Manfred wrote.

Baker, 66, has worked 20 seasons as a manager in the majors and has a 1,671-1,504 record, the second-most victories among active managers. He led the Giants to the 2002 World Series and has reached the postseason a half-dozen other times.

It was a stunning about-face for the Nationals, who reportedly had chosen Bud Black to be their manager last week but saw contract talks break down over the weekend. Black reportedly was angered by the team's original one-year offer for $1.6 million then turned down a two-year deal worth less than $2 million.

METS: Fresh off the team's World Series run, manager Terry Collins received a new two-year contract through the 2017 season, the Associated Press reported.

PHILLIES: The team declined left-hander Cliff Lee's $27.5 million option for next season. Lee, 37, a former Cy Young Award winner, will receive a $12.5 million buyout.

DRUG SUSPENSION: Former big-league outfielder Adron Chambers, currently in the Cubs' farm system, was suspended 50 games under baseball's minor-league drug program after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

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