Baker seeks input from former Cubs

Tribune staff reporter

New manager Dusty Baker plans to seek advice from every Cubs great he knows: Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Billy Williams, Shawon Dunston, Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe.

"I'll trust their opinions and come up with a game plan," Baker said.

Baker is likely to hear a common refrain: Get the best players. That's an area where Baker is expected to thrive.

"He's been able to attract some people who could have gone elsewhere," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He brings that extra to the table."

Baker said "a number of players have indicated that they would possibly like to come to Chicago and play for me."

He said Giants Jeff Kent and David Bell both have indicated they might want to follow Baker's path from San Francisco. Both are free agents, as is former Cub Bill Mueller.

"I think we're going to have our choice possibly of who wants to play (third base)," Baker said. "It's a matter of how things fit in the budget."

Baker, who earned a reputation for preferring to work with veterans, said he might relate better to younger players and looks forward to developing potential stars such as Bobby Hill, Hee Seop Choi and Mark Prior.

Baker's first priority, however, is to touch base with Sammy Sosa and other key players.

"We need to get on the same page and get rid of the stigma that the Cubs can't win and can't win playing daytime baseball," Baker said.

"To (win day games), you have to convince guys when it's time to take a day off and have a strong bench so you don't lose much when your regulars aren't playing. It's almost like having two teams."

Baker, like former manager Don Baylor, will have plenty of input in player personnel moves.

"Nobody agrees on everything," Baker said. "But, hopefully, we'll agree on most."

In addition to a third baseman, the Cubs are seeking a left-handed starter, at least two relievers and probably another catcher. Among the free agents being considered are lefty Mike Remlinger and catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Baker also must complete his coaching staff, which figures to include pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Gary Matthews and Dick Pole. Gene Clines and Sonny Jackson are among the coaches Baker will consider from his Giants staff.

Baker also wants to hire the 39-year-old Dunston in some capacity.

"He loves Chicago," Baker said. "And he has a lot to offer."

Copyright © 2018, CT Now