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Baker ready to return to Atlanta, where his MLB career began

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Baker ready to return to Atlanta, where his MLB career began

Dusty Baker's Major League Baseball career, which has spanned six decades, all began in September of 1968 when he debuted as a 19-year-old with the Braves. That was in Atlanta, which is exactly where Baker's career as the manager of the Washington Nationals will start on Monday.

The Nationals travel to Atlanta to play the Braves on Opening Day 2016. Baker and the Braves played in Atlanta Stadium back in 1968. Now it's Turner Field they call home, but there is still plenty of significance for the 66-year-old skipper.

"That’s where I started," Baker reminisced on Friday. "Every time I go back to Atlanta, there are some childhood memories - I was a teenager when I was there. It brings back very pleasant memories."

Baker played eight seasons with the Braves before moving on to the Dodgers in a 1975 trade. He has returned countless times over the years, noticing incremental change in the city and in his friends who live there.

"It shows you life is grand and life goes on," he said. "It also lets me know how old I am because some of the kids now are married and some of them are grandfathers."

Many things have changed in Atlanta, but there are a few restaurants Baker always likes to visit when he goes back. He wouldn't specify where he plans to go, but did talk about the meal he may have on the team's off-day on Tuesday.

"I used to go when I was playing and get a home run hamhock because every time they’d give me a hamhock I’d hit a home run," he said.

The tradition took on a new life when Baker was with the Dodgers and came back to Atlanta.

"They would joke that they’re not going to give me a home run hammock [anymore]. Then Pedro Guerrero wanted some, then Kenny Landreaux wanted some. Steve Howe and Bobby Welch wanted some shutout and save pork chops or something. It got to be kind of a ritual."

Baker also told a story this weekend about his time with the Dodgers that is definitely worth sharing:

"When I went from the Braves to the Dodgers it was heaven for me because I gained about 40 games in the standings. Plus, that's who I wanted to play for most of my life. I tried to do the best I could to punish my former team. There were guys on the Dodgers that I had come up playing against that I really didn't like and some of them didn't like me. But then a funny thing happens. When you get to be a teammate with a guy, you see a totally different guy than you saw across the field. Like Bill Buckner for me, I didn't like Bill Buckner and he didn't like me. We were always rivals for batting titles in the instructional league and different things. I used to say 'if we're going to have a fight then you leave Bill Buckner for me.' Then when I got to the Dodgers we were neighbors. We ended up running to the park together, going hunting together and we're still partners now. Certainly he was a different guy and so was I once we became teammates."

[RELATED: Nationals officially announce 2016 Opening Day roster]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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