HOUSTON -- Reds manager Dusty Baker had heard enough of the gossip, and he wants to put a stop to it.
For months, there has been a rumor circulating that center fielder Corey Patterson was getting playing time, even while he was struggling, because he was dating Baker's daughter, Natosha. The conspiracy theory has made the rounds on Internet and talk radio, and it has gotten back to the Baker family.
It's not true, Baker said.
"Some of the players on the Astros asked me about it," Baker said on Wednesday. "I don't know where it came from. It's really, really unfair to my daughter, my family and me. It's very upsetting. It's unprofessional. I don't know who started it."
Patterson played for Baker from 2004-05 with the Cubs and was signed to a $3 million one-year contract with the Reds in March during Spring Training. Installed as the leadoff hitter, Patterson was unsuccessful, and his hitting woes got him sent to Triple-A Louisville in late May. He was recalled only a few days later, when center fielder Ryan Freel suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.
A main target of criticism among Reds fans during this losing season, Patterson entered Wednesday batting .203 with nine home runs, 33 RBIs and a .238 on-base percentage. The 29-year-old has played a lot the past several weeks, but he no longer is in the leadoff spot in the lineup.
"When you look around, how many real outfield choices do I have or have I had the last four months?" Baker said. "Freel got hurt. [Norris] Hopper got hurt. Then Jerry [Hairston Jr.] got hurt, twice. We traded [Adam] Dunn and [Ken] Griffey, and now [Chris] Dickerson is hurt. What options did I have?
"It bothers me now when it gets around the league and guys ask me about it. I've heard it before, but I dismissed it. Why not Joey Votto? Why not Jay Bruce or Edwin Encarnacion? They're single."
Baker said people within the Reds organization have broached the Patterson rumor with him, too. He and Patterson also discussed it briefly, but quickly dismissed the talk as silly gossip.
Now, it's not so silly anymore.
"It doesn't bother me as much as it bothers my daughter or my wife," Baker said. "People that don't know what they're talking about need to be quiet. My daughter hasn't even been to Cincinnati, I don't think. Throughout my life and career, I've been the victim of a whole bunch of gossip. This is probably the worst."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This is an article found on reds.com, I would like to know why I was basically flagged on this site a couple years ago, and put on message board probation, when I simply ripped the performance of Todd Coffey as a pitcher, but it's acceptable to continually bash Dusty Baker, and Corey Patterson, and even make false accusations about them as people off the field. I just think it's kind of ridiculous the lack of class that has been shown by some reds fans in this situation, and would hope they realize how childish this type of thing is.