Redskins

Darren Baker still can't bat boy 10 years later

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Darren Baker still can't bat boy 10 years later

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Ten years after Darren Baker nearly got run over at home plate when he wandered into the World Series action, he's still not old enough to be a bat boy.

The 13 1/2-year-old son of Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is just fine with it, because these days he's a second baseman who appreciates watching the games to learn. He does plan to bat boy for a few games in 2013 after turning the required 14 on Feb. 11.

``It was smart, because I was so young and maybe if another kid is young he doesn't know what to do compared to an older kid who kind of understands more,'' Baker said Saturday, sitting in the dugout taking in the quiet scene some five hours before first pitch between the Reds and Giants in their playoff opener. ``Just parts of it, I remember a little bit of it when I got picked up at home plate. I remember Game 7 of the World Series. That's it. It went by so fast.''

Five hours before first pitch Saturday, Baker hopped around the dugout alone, leaned over the dugout rail and soaked in the scene. Yes, he said, he misses it here - even if the memories have faded some. He even ran inside to the clubhouse to grab his camera, then returned to snap a photo of the Blue Angels flying overhead for fleet week festivities.

Baker rooted for Washington to win on the season's final day so the NL Central champion Reds would be the NL's No. 2 seed behind the East-winning Nationals and open the best-of-five playoffs at San Francisco. His dad managed the Giants from 1993-2002.

It was here in October `02 when the then-toddler ran out to retrieve the bat of his favorite player - Kenny Lofton - in Game 5 of the World Series against the wild-card Angels. With David Bell charging home, San Francisco's J.T. Snow quickly scooped up the boy and kept him out of harm's way. After that, the ``Darren Baker Rule,'' as it became known, was established to require that bat boys be at least 14 years old.

``I think it was for the best because I like watching the game more. It was fun bat-boying, but I'd rather learn and watch the game,'' Baker said. ``I might do it once or twice (next year), but most of the time I'll be in the dugout watching.''

Baker - dressed in full Reds uniform as usual - planned to track down Snow before Saturday night's Game 1 of the NL division series, to say ``just hi, just normal.''

The Barry Bonds-led Giants came within six outs of winning a World Series title n Game 6 at Anaheim, then lost in Game 7. It wasn't until two years ago that San Francisco finally captured the franchise's first title since moving West from New York in 1958.

Little Darren was in tears after the `02 team fell short, then soon after moved off to Chicago as his dad left on difficult terms and became manager of the Cubs.

``When I was 3, I understood the teams and the magnitude of the situation,'' he said. ``I guess they just wanted to win badly.''

His 63-year-old father, who recently missed 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat, was expected to receive a warm ovation from the sellout crowd in the Giants' waterfront ballpark.

``In the beginning, when they announce his name with the lineups,'' Baker said. ``After that, he kind of turns into the enemy.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.