3/17 Baker’s 1st start – UPDATED

Scott Baker was scheduled to pitch two innings on Sunday but was pulled after reaching his pitch count in the first. He faced six batters, and gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in one-third of an inning as the Cubs faced the Athletics in Phoenix. This was Baker’s first spring start, and first game since Sept. 24, 2011, when he started for the Twins against the Indians. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last April, and missed all of 2012. He was not expected to be ready for the regular season until mid to late April.

“Results are one thing, but getting back out there and pitching in front of fans was something I haven’t done yet, so it’s exciting to get out there and do that today,” Baker told reporters in Phoenix after his first spring start against the Athletics.

How did it go?

“I felt like I made some decent pitches,” Baker said. “Occasionally I got a little jumpy and left the ball up a little bit. I was happy to be out there. It’s another step. You go back and work on the things that, regardless of whether you had surgery or not, you work on those things mechanically and just go get them next time.”

As of now, Baker will start every fifth day, which will give him at least two more starts in Arizona before the Cubs break camp. He could then stay in extended Spring Training. What was encouraging to Baker on Sunday was that he could throw all of his pitches.

“Did I locate as well as I would like to? No,” Baker said. “That’s still part of the process, also. It’s another step. The results weren’t there. Physically, I did everything I could to prepare for this outing, and that’s going to continue to be the case. As long as I continue to progress and build the pitch count up, we’re still shooting for that mid-April time frame.”

— Carrie Muskat

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