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Sports

Reds give Baker 2-year extension

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 05:29 PM
PEORIA, Ill. -

Reds owner Bob Castellini couldn't imagine Dusty Baker leaving.

The 63-year-old manager got a two-year contract extension Monday, giving him another chance to take Cincinnati deep into the playoffs. They've been there twice in the last three years, failing both times to get past the division series.

Baker missed the Reds' NL Central title celebration this year because he was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. He returned and lost ace Johnny Cueto at the start of their series against San Francisco, which ended with the Giants rallying to win Game 5.

The team's first big question of the offseason was whether it would bring back Baker for another try.

"This is Dusty's team," Castellini said. "These fellas are poised to go deeper and deeper in the season. To not bring Dusty back or not ask Dusty to come back was out of the question."

Baker is feeling much better, and the Reds have the nucleus of their 97-win team returning next year, including one of the deepest pitching staffs in the major leagues. When the club offered another two-year deal — same as the last one — Baker quickly agreed.

"It's very much the same contract and very much the same thing for all of us up here: There's work left to be done," Baker said. "I didn't want to leave on a note that we still have work to do."

Girardi attends father's funeral

Jerry Girardi was memorialized as a dedicated laborer who built the ranch-style Illinois home where he raised five highly successful children — two doctors, a math professor, an accountant and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

The Yankees manager, who attended the funeral service during an off day in the American League Championship Series, sat quietly alongside his family. None of the Girardis spoke, and they left the church quickly for a burial later Monday in Tampico, the tiny north-central Illinois town known as the birthplace of Ronald Reagan.

Father Larry Zurek told the roughly 100 mourners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Peoria that Jerry Girardi's contribution went far beyond his occupations as a bricklayer, restaurant owner and salesman. Foremost, he cherished family, Zurek said.

"Jerry built walls, but he built so much more," the priest said.

Jerry Giradi died Oct. 6 at a residential treatment center in nearby Metamora, Ill., at age 81. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for years.

PHILLIES: Philadelphia hired Wally Joyner to be its assistant hitting coach.

Joyner, 50, will assist new hitting coach Steve Henderson. The Phillies reshuffled their coaching staff after finishing 81-81 following five straight division titles.

Joyner previously was the batting coach for San Diego during parts of the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

RATINGS DOWN: Television ratings for baseball's division series are down from last year.

The 18 games on TBS, with all four series going the distance, averaged a 2.4 rating. That's down 11 percent from the 2.7 for 19 games in 2011, when teams from larger markets made the playoffs. Three of the four series went the full five games last season.

MLB Network aired playoff games for the first time this year. Its two division series broadcasts — Game 2 of Detroit-Oakland and Game 3 of St. Louis-Washington — averaged a network-record 1.2 million viewers, compared with 3.7 million for the TBS games. MLB Network is in about 70 million homes while TBS is in more than 100 million.

Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program.

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