Baker heads back to Cincy after 4 days in hospital

Associated Press
Cincinnati Reds acting manager Chris Speier, left, questions a call with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Cincinnati. Reds manager Dusty Baker remained in a Chicago hospital after experiencing an irregular heartbeat. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
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Cincinnati Reds acting manager Chris Speier, left, questions a call with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski …

CINCINNATI (AP) — Reds manager Dusty Baker returned to Cincinnati on Sunday after spending four days in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat.

Baker missed the Reds' 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday that clinched the NL Central title. Doctors wanted to keep him one more night to make sure he had fully recovered.

The 63-year-old manager was released from the hospital on Sunday. He met with players in the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after batting practice, but didn't stay around for a game against the Dodgers.

The Reds are off on Monday, giving Baker a day to rest before the start of a home series against Milwaukee.

"I'm managing tonight and hopefully with the day off tomorrow and him getting a good, relaxing night at home, (we'll) come back on Tuesday and see how he feels," bench coach Chris Speier said. "So yeah, it's great news."

Baker's 13-year-old son, Darren, was in the clubhouse.

Baker was hospitalized on Wednesday when the Reds were in Chicago playing the Cubs. He's had an irregular heartbeat for some time.

The Reds had hoped he'd be back in time to see the team clinch its second division title in the past three years with Baker as manager.

General manager Walt Jocketty texted him when the game ended on Saturday night, and the players toasted Baker in the clubhouse before spraying each other with beer and champagne.

Speier rested several veterans for the final game of the series Sunday night against Los Angeles, which opened the day three games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card spot.

Left fielder Ryan Ludwick got a fourth straight day off to rest a sore groin, and third baseman Scott Rolen got to rest his back.

Right fielder Jay Bruce and shortstop Zack Cozart also were out of the lineup. The Reds went 32-16 with first baseman Joey Votto out of the lineup because of a knee injury, successfully moving players around and changing the lineup.

With the division title wrapped up, Speier had to balance trying to win games — Cincinnati started the day tied with Washington for most wins in the majors at 92 — while resting players to get them ready for the postseason.

"I don't think that's too difficult," Speier said. "I think with our personnel, we've put a competitive team out there every day. But again, we're going to take care of ourselves and make sure the people that need a day or two to get their injuries under wraps will have those. But I don't think that's going to be hard."

Left-hander Aroldis Chapman finished the 6-0 win on Saturday, pitching the ninth inning. He'd been sidelined since Sept. 11 with a tired pitching shoulder that had his velocity down to the mid-90s. He was throwing 99 mph again on Saturday.

"I thought he looked good," Speier said. "I was happy that when he was off the strike zone, it was down. That's a good sign.

"I know he was anxious to get back out there. It was a good position for him to kind of have a soft landing, just go out and get that inning in because we're going to need him in the playoffs."

Speier planned to use him in a non-save role again before moving him back into the closer position.

"We're definitely easing him back into that situation," Speier said. "Maybe another time or two out of the bullpen and then we'll see what happens."

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