The Cubs skipper’s special powers come not from toothpicks or oversized sweatbands, but from a higher power writes the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Morrisey.

Dusty Baker has taken to rubbing holy water on the injured parts of Cubs players. This could explain why third baseman Aramis Ramirez was so adamant Tuesday that he did not have a strained groin.

Baker is a deeply spiritual man who is open to all sorts of religions and ideas. He attends churches of various Christian denominations. He has dabbled in Eastern philosophy and New Age ideology.

He went to a spiritual healing center in Hawaii before having surgery for prostate cancer in 2001.

During the 2003 season, he sprinkled a dirt-like substance on the Wrigley Field grass but refused to say what it was unless the Cubs won the World Series. He should have sprinkled some on Alex Gonzalez’s glove.

Four months ago, when Cubs media relations director Sharon Pannozzo brought him holy water that had been blessed by Pope John Paul II, Baker didn’t hesitate. He isn’t Catholic, but he isn’t dumb either.

“It’s about as close to holy medicine as you can get,” Baker said.

Holy water, according to the Baltimore Catechism, “is water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer, to beg God’s blessing on those who use it, and [His] protection from the powers of darkness.”

Cubs fans like to refer to the “powers of darkness” as the “conclave of St. Louis Cardinals.”

Baker said he poured some of the water on Mark Prior’s inflamed right elbow during spring training. Rain postponed Prior’s first start of the season Tuesday, and it spawned more than a few theological discussions. You can look at Tuesday’s steady drizzle at least two ways:

It was a higher power’s way of saying Prior’s elbow needed one more day of healing.

It rains a lot this time of year.

If I’m Baker, I go all the way with this. I pour holy water on the head of general manager Jim Hendry”not to baptize him, but to get it across that the Cubs need a legitimate closer. I spray holy water on the aging, crumbling cement at Wrigley, you know, just in case. I dump some of it on a billy goat for the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. At the very least, a goat gets a bath and the world is a better place.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti has the following take on the man he likes to call “the Rev. Johnnie B-Baker.”

As a Catholic, I am more amused than offended. If I shrugged when Dusty said blacks and Hispanics have a higher tolerance for summer heat than others, I’ll shrug this time and figure he won’t be the next pope. But as someone who has to watch baseball in this town, I must say the Cubs, with each passing development, are becoming the wacko outfit in “Major League.” What’s next, the slumping Nomar Garciaparra enlisting the help of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Jo-Buu? Greg Maddux wiping snot on the ball like the aging Steve Harris? Corey Patterson as Willie Mays Hayes? The difference is, I’m not envisioning any storybook rallies at beautiful Wrigley Field this year. When Baker is seeking miracles and spiritual enlightenment in the second week of the season, it doesn’t exactly convey a confident vibe. Desperate, for sure, but hardly inspirational.