MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals excited to play for 'old-school' Baker

Nationals excited to play for 'old-school' Baker

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will introduce Dusty Baker as their manager on Thursday morning. Right-hander Max Scherzer calls it a new chapter in the team's history.

Scherzer, who pitched two no-hitters for Washington this past season, is aware of what Baker has done in his 20 years as a manager. Scherzer learned that Baker is a players' manager and has an old-school mentality, but he likes to have fun as well.

"Now that the World Series is over, you start to think [about] 2016," Scherzer said. "[You look at] Dusty's resume and what he has done in the past, great things have come out of it. I'm looking forward to getting out to Spring Training."

Outfielder Bryce Harper greeted his new manager on Twitter and welcomed him to the nation's capital.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has heard a lot of good things about Baker through former teammate Adam Dunn and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. In fact, Zimmerman talked extensively to Bruce about his new manager.

"Everything I heard from everyone is positive," Zimmerman said. "Players love to play for him. Obviously, he has done some really good things in this game. He wants to win the World Series. So, hopefully, we can do it."

In his two years under former manager Matt Williams, Zimmerman averaged 78 games per season because of injuries. He hopes it's a different story under Baker, as the veteran said he wants to play at least 145 games in 2016. A healthy Zimmerman could mean big things for the Nationals.

Former Nats infielder/outfielder Willie Harris said Washington will be the best team in the National League East because of Baker. Harris played for Baker when he was on the Reds in 2012.

"I think Dusty Baker is the perfect guy for the Nationals," Harris said. "The way he does things, the way he walks around, the way he goes about his business, he is perfect for that clubhouse."

Nationals hire Dusty Baker

According to Harris, Baker doesn't show favoritism in the clubhouse or on the field. He treats everybody the same.

"He is not going to be all over you. He doesn't get in your business. He will let you be yourself," Harris said. "Dusty Baker is an old-school manager who was an old-school ballplayer. He has so much knowledge about hitting. He knows about baseball, period.

"I enjoyed playing for him. He brought food in the clubhouse for his players. There is a love playing for Dusty Baker. I think he is the perfect fit for the Washington Nationals. I have high expectations for those guys."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.