Baker: It felt like it was Christmas

CHICAGO (AP) -- Dusty Baker felt the cold wind on his face and

saw the snow on the winter-brown ivy at Wrigley Field.

His Chicago debut as manager of the Cubs didn't seem like a home

opener, not on a 32-degree day with thousands of empty seats at one

of baseball's most popular parks.

What warmed Baker up Tuesday was the way his new team responded

to the elements and overcame them in a 6-1 win over the Montreal


"It was very cold, the coldest I've ever been on a baseball

field, but you've got to eliminate those thoughts," said Baker,

who came to the Cubs after taking the San Francisco Giants to the

World Series six months ago.

"You got to try to put those elements out of your mind,

especially when people come and see you. Imagine how cold they are.

"They probably have the advantage of having a flask or two. I saw

a lot of people (reach) into their coats and I was like, 'They're

not going for popcorn.'"

The Cubs dealt with the conditions better than the Expos.

Matt Clement, whose back tightened up in his first start last

week, allowed three hits in 7 1/3 innings. Moises Alou drove in

three runs, Alex Gonzalez had three hits to continue his

early-season tear and the Cubs turned three double plays.

The game, played in a biting 14 mph wind that was blowing in,

was a makeup of Monday's snowout.

"I felt like singing 'Jingle Bells.' It felt like it was

Christmas," Baker said before the game. "That's the truth, it's

what I did. I started signing to my son. Kids love it. They don't

have to play in it like we do."

The announced attendance was 29,138, and some in the crowd booed

the Canadian national anthem when it was sung before the game.

"It was a little different because usually home openers are

packed," Baker said.

And how about being on the other side of Wrigley Field after a

decade in the visitors' dugout?

"It wasn't strange at all. Actually it was like I was never

almost on the other side, and I had been over there for years. I

felt comfortable over here," Baker said, admitting a couple of

times he envisioned former Cubs manager and good friend Don Baylor

standing in the dugout.

Among the bundled-up fans was Baker's 4-year-old son, Darren,

who can't be a bat boy anymore after a change in major league

rules. But Darren stood on a wall beside the Cubs dugout and gave

his dad a hug and kiss for good luck before the game.

Expos manager Frank Robinson, whose team will warm up at the end

of the week when it goes to Puerto Rico for a 10-game homestand,

insisted that Tuesday's game should not have been played.

But the Expos are making their only trip to Chicago, and another

postponement would have forced a doubleheader Wednesday.

"Why would I be happy to get in the game today?" Robinson

asked. "I was concerned about everybody. You can't play as well in

these conditions. I don't care what they say about the other team,

the one that went out and won in that weather. It's still not good

weather or a good climate to play the best type of baseball you can

play. It's not baseball weather. Period.

Clement (1-1) didn't allow a hit until Brad Wilkerson beat out a

single to start the fifth and didn't give up a run until Vladimir

Guerrero homered in the seventh.

Chicago went ahead in the first when Mark Grudzielanek singled,

Gonzalez walked, Sammy Sosa grounded into a double play and Zach

Day (1-1) threw a wild pitch.

Grudzielanek reached on an error and Gonzalez doubled before the

Cubs scored twice in the third on Sosa's RBI grounder and Alou's

sacrifice fly.

Alou hit an RBI double in the fifth to finish Day, moved to

third on a groundout and scored on Dan Smith's wild pitch for a 5-0

lead. Alou had an RBI grounder in the seventh.

Montreal loaded the bases in the eighth, but Joe Borowski struck

out Guerrero to end the threat.

Gonzalez was 3-for-3 with a walk and is batting .536

(15-for-28). Day allowed five runs -- three earned -- five hits and

four walks in 4 1-3 innings.

Gonzalez has been hot all season, despite the chilly weather.

His key? Hitting the ball with the right part of the bat.

"Once you hit in the sweet spot, it's about the same, there is

not that much of a difference," he said. "But I would stay away

from hitting it at the end of the bat. I did that the other day and

it took me an inning to get my hand back. It was completely


Game notes

Sosa was honored for his 500th homer. He was joined by

Ernie Banks -- the only other Cub with 500 homers -- to throw out the

ceremonial first pitch. Banks led the seventh innings of "Take Me

Out to the Ball Game." ... Gonzalez celebrated his 30th birthday.

... Montreal OF Jose Macias will end his two-game suspension

stemming from his role in an exhibition game altercation and rejoin

the team Wednesday.