SAN FRANCISCO -- Minus his signature toothpick, Cincinnati's Dusty Baker leaned against the batting cage watching his players just as he did for a decade managing the Giants.
Baker is back in the Bay Area for the playoffs, 10 years after he came so close to winning a World Series with San Francisco. These days, he is conserving energy after an 11-game absence because of a mini-stroke.
Sometimes Baker still feels the sting of that near-miss, even now, two managerial stops removed from his first career gig as skipper, in the place he has long called home. Baker figures to be cheered by fans at AT&T Park -- "some of 'em," he quipped -- when the Reds open the playoffs Saturday against the Giants in a National League Division Series.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said though two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (10-15) and lefthander Barry Zito (15-8) have been key for the Giants down the stretch, Bochy may just use them out of the bullpen. That goes for fifth starter Ryan Vogelsong (14-9) as well. -- AP