7/11 Baker to make rehab start

Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will start for Class A Kane County on Sunday, and if all goes well, could join the Cubs rotation in August.
Baker threw a bullpen at Wrigley Field on Thursday, his final tuneup before he starts against West Michigan in his first real game action. He did make one Cactus League start March 17 but was shut down after that, and diagnosed with a strained elbow.

“[Thursday] was better than what I saw the last time, before he had the setback,” Dale Sveum said. “He was letting it go his last 10, 15 pitches. I don’t think he’s ever going to exert himself on the mound too much until it counts. It was coming out of his hand pretty easy. Everything is going really well now.”

Baker was expected to make four Minor League rehab starts, and if he continues to progress, will give the Cubs a fresh arm for the final two months of the season. That may be key if the Cubs deal Matt Garza by the Trade Deadline.

He had the surgery in April 2012, and had hoped to be ready for the start of the 2013 season. But after the setback in March, Baker apologized to Cubs executives, including general manager Jed Hoyer.

“My reasoning for that was I don’t want anybody to ever think I didn’t have the intention of being a servicable pitcher right from the beginning of the season,” Baker said. “I guess [apologizing] wasn’t necessary but I wanted them to know [the setback] happened, and it stinks, but I did everything I could to be ready for the start of the season.”

Even though Baker hasn’t thrown a pitch yet for the Cubs, Hoyer said they would consider bringing the right-hander back in 2014.

“There’s no secret that there’s a lot of great things going on here,” Baker said. “You go through different phases in your career. I’ve been hurt and things have been taken away from me, and I want to be with a team and an organization that is trying to win, and there’s no question that is going on here.”

– Carrie Muskat

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