Baker mulling future with Reds

Published 1:33 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Dusty Baker is prepared to take his time weighing an offer to manage the Cincinnati Reds again next season.

The Reds recently offered Baker a one-year contract extension for the 2011 campaign, but he has yet to give the club an answer and certainly wants to weigh his options.

“We just started talking,” Baker said.

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Cincinnati opened its three-game series against Baker’s former team in San Francisco on Monday night with a 72-52 record, making a push at the franchise’s first playoff berth since 1995. Being that Baker is in a pennant race in the NL Central, he might create other opportunities for himself. There could be managerial openings on a third of the clubs this offseason, with 14 skippers in the final year of their contracts.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty didn’t want to discuss Baker’s situation.

“It’s internal,” he said at AT&T Park. “I don’t talk about players’ contracts, and this is the same.”

Lou Piniella retired from the Cubs on Sunday, and Atlanta’s Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays plan to do the same after the season. A couple of other big names who might move on: Tony La Russa in St. Louis and the Dodgers’ Joe Torre. Both of their contracts are due to expire.

Texas already has said manager Ron Washington will return next year and Oakland general manager Billy Beane has given a vote of confidence to Bob Geren.

Baker’s offseason home is in Sacramento, and he is a West Coast guy to the core, so getting back closer to home would be appealing if an opportunity arises.

Could Baker end up in Dodger Blue again at age 61? He played in Los Angeles from 1976-1983 — then spent a year with the Giants before finishing his 19-year big league career with two years across San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics.

“I like the Dodgers and the Giants. I’m from Southern Cal and Northern Cal. I don’t find it weird,” Baker said. “I pull for the Giants, too, except when we play them. This is still my son’s team, the team he grew up with. … I hope we both make it, us and the Giants. It’s hard to pull against friends.”

Former Giants managing partner Peter Magowan stopped by Baker’s office in the visitor’s clubhouse Monday and the two shook hands, apparently past the rift that led to Baker leaving to manage the Cubs following San Francisco’s runner-up World Series season of 2002.

“You can only carry stuff around for so long,” said Baker, who appreciated the goodwill gesture.

The two hadn’t seen each other in more than two years, though they exchanged letters. Magowan retired from his ownership duties in September 2008 and said Baker wrote him a thoughtful letter at the time.

“I was shocked to see him. I’m glad to see him,” Baker said.