Dusty Baker hasn’t managed a single game for the Nationals yet, but he’s already making headlines. And as you can probably guess by looking at the headline for this story, it’s not for the right reasons.
Baker used to coach Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman during his time in Cincinnati, so during a press conference at MLB’s Winter Meetings today, he was asked to respond to the story about the domestic violence incident that Chapman was reportedly involved in back in October. And his response was baffling because, rather than offering up a “no comment” or telling reporters that he didn’t have enough information to comment on it, he chose to praise Chapman for being a “heck of a guy.”
“Oh, he’s a heck of a guy,” Baker said. “I mean, a heck of a guy. I’ll go on record and say I wouldn’t mind having Chapman. No, no, he is a tremendous young man with a great family, mom and dad, and what he went through to get here and what his family had to go through to get here. I was with him through the whole process. There was a couple times when I had to stop him from quitting or going back to Cuba because he was lonely for his family. So I went through a lot of stuff with Chapman. I got nothing but love for the young man.”
Baker then went on to say that he didn’t actually read the domestic violence report and also said he doesn’t “read most of the stuff you guys write," as if reporters had somehow made up the story out of thin air.
“I heard it from my son,” he said. “I mean, who’s to say the allegations are true, number one? And who’s to say what you would have done or what caused the problem?”
There’s a chance the allegations against Chapman aren’t true. But still, now probably isn’t the best time to bring that up, seeing as how the report was just released and police are still reportedly looking into the allegations.
Baker wasn’t done, either! Later on in the press conference, he was asked about what he thinks the Nats need to do to improve next season. It was an innocent enough question, and he could have gone just about anywhere with it. Unfortunately, he decided to include the line, “I’m not being racist,” in his answer and, well, as you can guess, it’s never a good sign when something like that is part of your answer.
“You’re always in need of left-handed pitching, left-handed hitting, and in need of speed,” he said. “I think that’s the No. 1 thing that’s missing, I think, in the game is speed. You know, with the need for minorities, you can help yourself. You’ve got a better chance of getting some speed with Latin and African-Americans. I’m not being racist. That’s just how it is.”
Well then. Good times at the Winter Meetings! Baker’s time in Washington is definitely off to an interesting start.
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