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With a season on-deck, Dusty Baker's garden grows

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 25 2014 2:22 p.m. MDT

Whether Baker will return to the top dugout step, he doesn't know. Yet there is something still missing: He never won a World Series in 20 years as a skipper.

"I have some unfinished business," he says.

Baker knows he's not always in charge of what's next.

Take the garden.

"I lost my beets, man, the frost got them," he says. "I don't like beets, but Darren does. I had to plant beets and Brussels for him."

A NEW LIFE

Last week, Baker underwent a minor heart procedure with the goal of getting him his medications. He wore a heart monitor on the road last season, he has watched his diet and alcohol intake and exercised more.

"My doctors were trying to get me through last year," he acknowledges. "I saw every cardiologist, radiologist, every 'ist in the world. I'm a lot better than I was last year."

After the recent procedure he reported some minor soreness but otherwise called it a success.

"I spent this winter getting right," he says. "I'm 64. I don't feel 64. I've got to register for Social Security and Medicare. I don't feel age."

Baker has also recovered from having his wisdom teeth out, noting, "I had had the time and I wanted to take my mind off baseball."

He spoke to new Reds manager Bryan Price a couple of months back, but says, "I let them do their own thing, it's their ship now."

THE FUTURE

Baker is building a home on Kauai, one place where he can truly relax.

Back on the mainland, mixed among his dozens of framed photos of famous people and art pieces is a print of "It's a Wonderful Life," the 1946 holiday film that Baker watches each year as a gentle reminder.

"It's one of my favorites when you're down and out," he says. "There was a time I wasn't doing real good."

In August, his daughter will get married in the backyard.

"Maybe I'm supposed to be off to marry my daughter," he says. "I prayed for my daughter to find someone."

And Darren, who at 3 1/2 famously ran into the action during the 2002 World Series as a bat boy and nearly was run over before the Giants' J.T. Snow scooped him up, is growing so fast. Baker just resurfaced their basketball court, and has old bleacher seats from stadiums at all of his stops as a player lining the batting cage.

The seat numbers are Nos. 11 and 12, since Baker wore 12 on his jersey.

"I've been blessed," Baker says. "Baseball's been good for me. I don't have any regrets. They don't owe me anything."

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