WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — This Astros tour of the Grapefruit League must feel unlike any other, and Dusty Baker keeps his fingers crossed that somewhere they’ll find a Florida Turnpike exit returning them to normalcy.
“(H)opefully one time through, maybe it’ll be over,” Houston’s new manager said Saturday of the steady boos that have greeted his team in the wake of its historic sign-stealing scandal. “How long can (people) talk about the same things?
“You kind of see a mean spirit a little bit. I’m hoping that we all change that spirit.”
At FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, before the Astros took on the Mets, the 70-year-old Baker spoke calmly about the hate his players have received from opposing fans.
“I just tell them, ‘Hey man, this is nothing. …Life’s tough,’” said Baker, who replaced the fired (and suspended) A.J. Hinch. “You just deal with it.”
As for how these Astros are dealing with it, “They’re handling it pretty good externally. I don’t know what it’s like internally,” Baker said. “Nobody likes it. I’ve been booed big-time. I was booed in LA every day my first year there (1976, while playing with the Dodgers). I was booed in Chicago the last couple of months there (2006, while managing the Cubs). That was tough. But hey, I survived it. I’m still here.
“And in Chicago, when I go back there, I talk to people, now they are all like, ‘We love you!’ I’m like, ‘Not all of you.’”
He has not yet informed his players of those experiences, Baker said, adding, “I’m sure at some point in time, I’ll share it with them.”