Reds owner Bob Castellini couldn’t imagine Dusty Baker leaving.
The 63-year-old manager got a two-year contract extension Monday, giving him another chance to take Cincinnati deep into the playoffs. They’ve been there twice in the last three years, failing both times to get past the division series.
Baker missed the Reds’ National League Central title celebration this year because he was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. He returned and lost ace Johnny Cueto to a back injury early in their series against San Francisco, which ended with the Giants rallying to win Game 5.
The team’s first big question of the offseason was whether it would bring Baker back for another try.
“This is Dusty’s team,” Castellini said. “These fellas are poised to go deeper and deeper in the season. To not bring Dusty back or not ask Dusty to come back was out of the question.”
Baker’s health is better, and the Reds have the nucleus of their 97-win team returning next season including one of the deepest pitching staffs in the major leagues. When the club offered another two-year deal — same as the last one — Baker quickly agreed.
“It’s very much the same contract and very much the same thing for all of us up here: There’s work left to be done,” Baker said. “I didn’t want to leave on a note that we still have work to do.”
TRUE BLUE TWIN
When Jim Rantz signed his first professional contract with the Washington Senators in 1960, the skinny pitcher out of the University of Minnesota was just hoping to hang around the organization for a few seasons.
He wound up staying for the next 52 years.
Rantz, senior director of minor league operations for the Minnesota Twins announced his retirement, ending an incredible run with his hometown organization that included stints as a player, manager, public relations official, scout and farm system coordinator.
NO GOUGING HERE
The Boston Red Sox are keeping ticket prices unchanged for 2013 after their worst season in 46 years.
Individual prices range from $12 for the upper bleachers to $165 for a seat above the Green Monster in left field. Prices for season tickets also remain unchanged.
“It was abundantly clear this year that we should hold the line on ticket prices,” team president Larry Lucchino said. “Over the past few years, we have fallen short of our goals to play postseason baseball. Through it all, fans have shown their deep loyalty and support, for which we are all grateful.”
WALLY’S NEW WORLD
The Phillies hired Wally Joyner to be their assistant hitting coach. The 50-year-old Joyner was a left-handed hitting first baseman for 16 seasons with four teams. He finished his career with a .289 batting average, 409 doubles, 204 home runs and 1,106 RBI.