Coach Baines savors second trip to Series

Notebook

World Series

October 26, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

Houston -- Harold Baines has been on this stage before.

Once.

Only one time in a splendid 22-season career did Baines, a St. Michael's native and former Oriole, make it to the World Series.

That was in 1990, when he had just one hit in seven at-bats as his Oakland Athletics were swept in four games by the Cincinnati Reds. Four times Baines made it to the American League Championship Series - including losing to the Orioles in 1983 and losing with the Orioles in 1997 - but three times fell a step short.

Now, Baines is back - this time as the bench coach to Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, one of his best buddies in the game.

If you believe Baines, this one has more meaning.

"I started in this organization as a player, so in that sense this is really special," said Baines, 46, who was selected first overall in the 1977 amateur draft. "I didn't make it as a player but I got here as a coach with the team that drafted me."

Coaching wasn't a goal of Baines' when he retired from the game in 2001. He was happy working about 10 days a month as a White Sox roving instructor and spending the rest of the time with his wife and four children on the Eastern Shore.

But when White Sox bench coach Joe Nossek resigned during spring training in 2004, Guillen, a rookie manager, turned to his former star teammate who had first welcomed him to Chicago in 1985.

Baines talked it over with his family - his eldest daughter is a student at the University of Maryland - and decided he had to seize the opportunity.

"You've got to try all new experiences, that's what makes your life fulfilled," Baines said. "If you get complacent and do one thing your whole life, you really are not learning anything."

Now he's the bench coach to the likely AL Manager of the Year on a team that's in the World Series, putting him on the track to be a manager one day - if he wants to go that route. Does he? "I really don't know," the soft-spoken Baines said. "We'd have to see."

Smoltz: Mazzone's void not `huge'

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was presented with the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award yesterday before Game 3 of the World Series. The award is given annually to a player for on-field excellence and commitment to community service.

After the ceremony Smoltz talked about his longtime pitching coach Leo Mazzone's decision to leave Atlanta to join the Orioles.

"He's helped me a lot, and for him to do this is great for him," Smoltz said. "I think some people think this is going to be a huge void. It's not going to be a huge void, and I think he'll tell you that himself. What I admire is he has worked hard to get where he has gotten, and you can't take that way from him."

Clemens penciled in

Astros manager Phil Garner is still counting on Roger Clemens (strained left hamstring) to pitch Game 5. But he's not writing it in pen yet.

"I have him penciled in for 5," Garner said. "I have not said definitely one way or another that he is starting or not starting. We're still day-to-day with him."

Blazing first pitch

To throw out the ceremonial first pitch in the first World Series game ever in Texas, the Astros chose Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Ryan threw a low strike to longtime Astro Jeff Bagwell as the crowd gave the Hall of Famer a standing ovation.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Postseason schedule

WORLD SERIES

(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

Houston vs. Chicago White Sox

(Chicago leads series 2-0) Game 1 -- Chicago 5, Houston 3 Game 2 -- Chicago 7, Houston 6 Yesterday -- Chicago @Houston Today -- Chicago (Garcia 14-8) @Houston (Backe 10-8), 8:33 p.m. *Tomorrow -- Chicago@Houston, 8:28 p.m. *Saturday -- Houston@Chicago, 7:58 p.m. *Sunday -- Houston@Chicago, 8:13 p.m.

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