From Comcast SportsNetCINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker returned to Cincinnati on Sunday after spending four days in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat.Baker missed the Reds' 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday that clinched the NL Central title. Doctors wanted to keep him one more night to make sure he had fully recovered.The 63-year-old manager was released from the hospital on Sunday. He met with players in the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after batting practice, but didn't stay around for a game against the Dodgers.The Reds are off on Monday, giving Baker a day to rest before the start of a home series against Milwaukee."I'm managing tonight and hopefully with the day off tomorrow and him getting a good, relaxing night at home, (we'll) come back on Tuesday and see how he feels," bench coach Chris Speier said. "So yeah, it's great news."Baker's 13-year-old son, Darren, was in the clubhouse.Baker was hospitalized on Wednesday when the Reds were in Chicago playing the Cubs. He's had an irregular heartbeat for some time.The Reds had hoped he'd be back in time to see the team clinch its second division title in the past three years with Baker as manager.General manager Walt Jocketty texted him when the game ended on Saturday night, and the players toasted Baker in the clubhouse before spraying each other with beer and champagne.Speier rested several veterans for the final game of the series Sunday night against Los Angeles, which opened the day three games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card spot.Left fielder Ryan Ludwick got a fourth straight day off to rest a sore groin, and third baseman Scott Rolen got to rest his back.Right fielder Jay Bruce and shortstop Zack Cozart also were out of the lineup. The Reds went 32-16 with first baseman Joey Votto out of the lineup because of a knee injury, successfully moving players around and changing the lineup.With the division title wrapped up, Speier had to balance trying to win games -- Cincinnati started the day tied with Washington for most wins in the majors at 92 -- while resting players to get them ready for the postseason."I don't think that's too difficult," Speier said. "I think with our personnel, we've put a competitive team out there every day. But again, we're going to take care of ourselves and make sure the people that need a day or two to get their injuries under wraps will have those. But I don't think that's going to be hard."Left-hander Aroldis Chapman finished the 6-0 win on Saturday, pitching the ninth inning. He'd been sidelined since Sept. 11 with a tired pitching shoulder that had his velocity down to the mid-90s. He was throwing 99 mph again on Saturday."I thought he looked good," Speier said. "I was happy that when he was off the strike zone, it was down. That's a good sign."I know he was anxious to get back out there. It was a good position for him to kind of have a soft landing, just go out and get that inning in because we're going to need him in the playoffs."Speier planned to use him in a non-save role again before moving him back into the closer position."We're definitely easing him back into that situation," Speier said. "Maybe another time or two out of the bullpen and then we'll see what happens."
The Capitals will look to erase the memory of Thursday’s loss to the Islanders as they return to the ice Saturday night in Tampa Bay (7 p.m. on CSN).
Here are three bold predictions for the game against the Lightning:
1. Jakub Vrana will get his first NHL point on the power play
Considering how much the Caps have struggled on the power play lately, it seems odd to think they will find success in Tampa thanks to a rookie playing in only his second NHL game. But producing on the power play is Vrana’s specialty. He is a very talented young player with a lot of confidence. A Lightning penalty kill that has only been 81.3 percent effective this season may not know how to handle the young sniper.
2. Both teams will combine for over 15 shots on goal in the first period
The Caps have lost two straight games and three of their last five. The Lightning have lost four straight and five of their last six. These are two teams desperate to turn things around and that will show in what should be a frantic first period. Expect a frantic opening frame with both teams trying to exert control early on.
3. Tampa Bay will score two goals or fewer
The Lighting scored four goals in a loss against St. Louis, but this is a team that is struggling to find consistent offense since losing superstar forward Steven Stamkos to injury. Prior to the game against the Blues, Tampa had been held to only five goals in three games. Despite the Caps’ recent struggles, they have played well defensively and should be able to shutdown a Tampa offense that hasn’t quite figured out how to score consistently without their top threat in the lineup.
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TAMPA—When the Capitals face the Lightning on Saturday night, recent minor league recall Paul Carey figures to be in the lineup.
It’ll be Carey’s second game with Washington this season and sixth dating to last year. It could also represent Carey’s best chance of carving out a bigger role with the Caps, who have scored 12 goals in the past six games, dropped three of their last five and, as Coach Barry Trotz put it, are in need of “a little push.”
“He’s been very detailed,” Trotz said, asked what he’s liked about Carey’s play in previous stints with the Caps. “He’s been fairly productive. He scored [a goal last season]. He’s made some really good plays tracking down pucks. I like his speed. I think he’s a mature guy that has been very consistent for Hershey. [Bears Coach] Troy [Mann] has talked about him having great success for them, being really consistent and valuable.”
Carey, a quick, tenacious 6-foot-1, 198-pound left wing, has five goals and nine assists in 16 games with the Bears this season.
At 28, though, Carey is running out of time to prove he can be a full-time NHL player. His age might suggest to some that he’s missed his window of opportunity. But that’s not how Trotz sees it. Trotz likes what he’s seen and heard—and he wants to get another good look before rendering a verdict.
Since being drafted in the fifth round by the Avalanche in 2007, Carey has played for Indiana (USHL), Boston College, Lake Erie (AHL), the Avalanche, Providence (AHL), the Bears and Caps. It hasn’t been the most circuitous route in hockey history, but it hasn’t been a direct route, either.
“We want to find out about him,” Trotz said. “Guys getting to the NHL have different paths. And they have different timeframes. I’ve had Joel Ward. I’ve had Andrew Brunette. I’ve had Vern Fiddler.”
“Those are all pretty good players who just took a longer path,” he continued. “Maybe [Carey] is taking a longer path. We need to find out what he can do so that we’re not missing anything with him as a player. So he’s going to get an opportunity. I think we need a little push here.”
Carey was actually called up along with Jakub Vrana on Wednesday and was scheduled to play against Islanders on Thursday night. But he fell ill—he thinks it was food poisoning—on the 130-mile drive from Hershey to Arlington, Va.
Carey returned to practice Friday and skated on the third line alongside Lars Eller and Justin Williams, which is where he's expected to play against the Bolts.
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