10/14/2003 8:08 PM ET
Notes: Baker thinking ahead
Estes could be added to roster if Cubs make Series
CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood, who did not get a decision in his lone start in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, will start Wednesday's Game 7 if necessary.
If the Cubs can wrap up the NLCS on Tuesday night with a win over the Marlins, Wood would be in line to start Game 1 of the World Series. He was unbeaten in his two NL Division Series starts against Atlanta and gave up three runs over 6 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker is already doing a little scouting, watching the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
"My eyes see things differently from theirs and their eyes see things differently from mine," Baker said of the Cubs scouts, who have been following the ALCS. "I'm watching parts of it, I'm watching [Tim] Wakefield when he throws his fastball. I'm watching different managerial things -- when he might hit and run, who he might go to pinch-hit."
The World Series is scheduled to begin Saturday at the American League city. The National League team would host Games 3, 4 and 5 in the best-of-seven series.
Probably the best scout on the Cubs is leadoff man Kenny Lofton. He was batting .409 in the NLCS and had a .480 on-base percentage. Lofton has scored seven runs in the five games, and he gives a quick report on the pitcher with each at-bat.
"That's what a good leadoff man does. He says, 'Hey, he's got a good break on his slider,' or 'The ball's sinking,'" Baker said. "Kenny's excellent at that."
The only potential roster change for the World Series could be adding left-handed pitcher Shawn Estes and dropping right-hander Juan Cruz. Estes has been with the team and throwing on the side throughout the playoffs even though he's not on the roster. Cruz has yet to appear in an NLCS game.
"You play those American League clubs and they have a bunch of left-handers over there," Baker said.
Wind-chill factor: What a difference the weather makes. It was 55 degrees and players were wearing ski caps and fleece during batting practice Tuesday prior to Game 6. That's much different than the weather in Miami, which was hot and very humid.
"I actually like it," second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said of the cold. "We're used to this weather. We can handle it and it's not going to mess with us."
"I think [Mark Prior] is going to enjoy it," catcher Paul Bako said of the Cubs' Game 6 starter. "I think he was looking forward to pitching in cool weather and he has it."
With the change in climate, will Baker alter his managing style?
"It's different when it's cold and when the wind's blowing in versus when the wind's blowing out here," Baker said. "Our blood's probably a little thicker than theirs. Whether [the cold] helps or not, I don't know."
Off day: Baker took 4-year-old son Darren for a drive on Monday's off-day.
"We put the top down on the car and drove out west -- way west," Baker said. "I've never been that far west."
He didn't reach the Mississippi River. Just 5400 Madison St. and found a restaurant for some soul food.
Along the way, he spotted another goat -- someone else trying to capitalize on the curse gimmick -- with a TV crew.
"I waved to them and they didn't know it was me," Baker said. "He was a pretty handsome old goat. It wasn't the normal can-eating, tied-up-in-the-back goat. He was a handsome goat."
Enough with the goat curse.
"I've said it a hundred times," Baker said about trying to eliminate all talk about the curse. "I'm sure in Boston they're tired of hearing about the 'Curse of the Bambino.'
"There's nothing you can do about it except win," he said. "If you win, then they have to come up with something else for the next 95 years."
The Cubs' futility has been well documented. The team hasn't been to the World Series since 1945, it hasn't won a World Series since 1908. The Cubs haven't had back-to-back winning seasons since 1971-72.
"[Baker] said, 'Why don't we start something new?' and we fed off that from Spring Training," Bako said. "We were just 20 or 30 guys from different ballclubs and different parts of the country gathered together to win and win under him. It's been totally different -- no more old Cubs stuff. It was new Cubs. And that's how we believed the whole year and it's worked out well so far."
A lot of closet Cubs fans are calling Baker. He received a call from actor Bill Cosby, who said he was pulling for the Cubs.
Humble pie: Baker is tired of his players being asked about what kind of impact he has had on the team.
"I wish they'd quit asking," Baker said. "Honest. They don't need that kind of pressure on them. What if they said, 'I don't like the bum.' They might be saying something nice just because they're on the spot."
The Cubs players are more likely saying nice things because they believe in Baker.
"I know the players still get it done on the field, but I honestly don't think we'd be where we are today with somebody else running the show," Bako said. "And I 100 percent believe that. The same players and a different manager, I don't think we'd be here today at all."
"I just think the motivation he has for us and the belief that he has in each player is tremendous," Grudzielanek said. "He definitely speaks out and I think everybody understands him and what we need to do. And he keeps us focused."
Said Baker: "I'm not playing. I'm the maestro of the band."
Facts and figures: Grudzielanek entered Tuesday's game 0-for-13 in his last three games. ... Randall Simon started at first base Tuesday. He was 5-for-14 in the NLCS with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. ... Sammy Sosa is 5-for-19 in the NLCS through five games. Baker was asked how challenging it's been for Sosa to rebuild his image after the corked-bat incident. "He did by No. 1, admitting a mistake. That's the first step," Baker said. "Then after that, what can anybody say? The second step was he didn't dwell on it. And probably the third step is he started hitting home runs." In the 102 games since June 18, the day he returned from the suspended list, Sosa batted .269 with 36 homers and 82 RBIs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com