Dusty Baker continues to encourage kids in clubhouse

VIERA, Fla. - Dusty Baker is an authority on any number of topics, and given all the years he's been a part of baseball and the varied experiences he's had over the years, it's only natural to ask for his opinion on matters currently in the spotlight around the sport.

And nothing is in the spotlight right now around baseball more than the topic of kids in the clubhouse after former Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche abruptly retired this week when the White Sox asked him not to bring son Drake to work as much as he always has during his career.

Baker knows plenty about kids in the clubhouse. His son Darren became famous way back in 2002 as the Giants' 3-year-old bat boy who neaDusty-Baker-spring-sidebar.jpgrly got run over at the plate during the World Series.

Major League Baseball ultimately issued a new rule - known colloquially as the "Darren Baker Rule" - stating all bat boys must be at least 14.

Baker felt like he had good reason to bring his son to work at the time.

"I had cancer," he said. "When he got rescued at home plate (by the Giants' J.T. Snow), I didn't know if I was going to live past that World Series. I wanted to give my son everything that I could give him. People ask me: 'Why was he out there?' and this and that. Because I had cancer."

Baker has long believed baseball is a family sport, meant to be shared between fathers and sons. He encourages his players to bring their kids to the clubhouse, and indeed Jayson Werth's son Jackson arrived in Viera earlier this week and was in uniform during batting practice Thursday.

"Everybody talks about the family, the importance of family," Baker said. "But how else are you supposed to have a family sometimes if you don't bring your kids to work?"

That said, Baker stopped short of condemning the White Sox for their stricter policy, limiting kids' clubhouse appearances to a minimum.

"Every organization can do whatever they want to do," he said. "You can't judge from afar. All I can do is answer what we're going to do here. Personally, here, I'm going to do what I've always done: invite kids in."

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