Reds' Baker misses another game with health issue

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012
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CINCINNATI (AP) — Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart considered what it would be like to celebrate a division title without the manager who made it possible. It wouldn't be nearly so satisfying without Dusty Baker doing some dousing.

The Reds missed a third straight game on Friday because of problems caused by an irregular heartbeat. Doctors in Chicago advised him to spend one more night in a hospital there before traveling to Cincinnati for a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Reds' clinching number was down to one after the St. Louis Cardinals lost on Friday in Chicago 5-4 in 11 innings, setting up the possibility that Cincinnati could end up celebrating later in the night without its manager.

"It would be bittersweet," Cozart said. "We're all still thinking about him and wish he were here. He'll be with us in spirit. I guess we've got to go out there and win one for the skipper."

The 63-year-old Baker was hospitalized in Chicago on Wednesday because of symptoms from an irregular heartbeat that he's had for some time. The Reds swept the series against the Cubs, putting themselves in position to clinch their second division title in three years at home.

The Reds weren't sure when Baker would be allowed to rejoin the team.

"He's fine," said bench coach Chris Speier, who took over Baker's duties. "They want to make sure before they put him on a plane — he has some fluids (built up) — make sure that's all taken care of. But yeah, you worry about him. He's our leader, and for me, just a dear, dear friend. My mind is more with him than it is about this game."

The Reds clinched at least a wild-card berth in Chicago, but weren't going to celebrate until they got the division title, even if they had to do it without Baker.

"It would be a little disappointing," infielder Todd Frazier said. "Knowing Dusty, he would want us to get it done as quickly as possible. If he's not here, I know he'll be celebrating with us in spirit."

Baker made out the lineups for the two games he missed in Chicago. Speier took care of it on Friday, deciding to rest left fielder Ryan Ludwick one more day to let a sore groin heal. He also put Cozart back in the starting lineup for the first time in two weeks. Cozart missed 14 games with strained muscles in his left side.

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