8/31 Extra bases
Scott Baker will make his final Minor League rehab start Monday for Class A Kane County. The right-hander, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, hopes his next outing will be with the Cubs. Baker’s rehab was interrupted by rain as weather in Florida while he was scheduled to pitch for Class A Daytona kept forcing games to be cancelled.
In his last outing for Kane County, he gave up one hit over five scoreless — and dry — innings.
“For me, it’s just about making pitches, and I feel like I’m making pitches,” Baker said Saturday. “Some of the arm speed is starting to come back. I know that takes time. Just being a realist, it’s a long time since I’ve pitched competitively. There’s only one way to gain the arm speed and that’s to pitch.”
His goal is still to pitch for the Cubs in the final month of regular season play.
“As long as I can make pitches, I think I can be competitive,” Baker said.
He knows how many pitches and innings he needs to convince the Cubs front office.
“I’m cutting it close for sure,” he said of the timing. “I feel if I can get to that six-inning, 90-pitch mark, then that puts me right in line to start a game at the Major League level. Of course, that decision is totally up to them. I really can’t complain one bit because things have been great, and they’ve taken good care of me and allowed me to take my time and made sure I’m just not healthy for the short term but for the long term.”
* Ryan Sweeney stopped by Wrigley Field to pick up his gear. He hopes to be back on Sunday for the rest of the season. Sweeney and Luis Valbuena were scheduled to make rehab outings Saturday night for Class A Kane County. If all goes well, Sweeney, who has been sidelined since June 30 because of a left rib fracture, could be added on Sunday when rosters expand.
“He’ll be back [Sunday],” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Saturday of Sweeney. “It’ll be good to have him back.”
Valbuena, who has been out since Aug. 3, may need a little more time. Kane County’s season ends Monday. Sweeney was batting .295 when injured while Valbuena was hitting .225, but had hit nine home runs and driven in 31 runs.
The Cubs also may add a left-handed pitcher to the bullpen. James Russell has handled those duties by himself for the majority of the season.
* September will be a key month to evaluate the Cubs players.
“I think the last month is priceless for some guys, especially some guys who had a tough struggle or whatever,” Sveum said. “Other guys are being evaluated for next year. The adage of it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, it helps the winter a lot. You don’t want a bad September and then sit on that for the winter.”
— Carrie Muskat