Cubs’ Scott Baker will make rehab start Sunday
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 11, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: July 11, 2013 10:38PM
Almost four months since he last pitched in a game — the only time in more than a year — Scott Baker is ready to try again.
Try to prove he’s healthy enough to finally pitch in the majors again. Maybe even to prove he’s one of the answers for this multiyear, tear-down/rebuild Cubs project.
“It’s been long, it’s been tough, but it’s finally getting to the point where I can start this rehab process,” said the right-hander, who makes his first minor-league rehab start Sunday for Class A Kane County. His comeback from elbow surgery was sidetracked in spring training by a flare-up in his first inning.
Baker, a former 15-game winner who signed as a free agent only six months after Tommy John surgery, already is being viewed by the front office as a possible contract-extension candidate even though he hasn’t thrown an official pitch since signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
“It’s something we certainly talked about,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He’s a fantastic person and a really good teammate. But not to get ahead of ourselves, we’ll see how it goes. He’s certainly the kind of guy you want to have in your organization.”
Said Baker: “It’s good and flattering to hear that even though I’ve been hurt and haven’t thrown a pitch for the Cubs yet, they like me still.”
But first things first.
Baker, 31, threw a bullpen session Thursday for the Cubs’ field staff.
“It was coming out of his hand pretty easy,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Everything’s going pretty well right now.”
He’s expected to make at least four rehab starts in the system before the club determines when he’ll make his Cubs debut. Barring another setback, it should correspond roughly to the July 31 trade deadline, when the team likely will need a replacement for Matt Garza in the rotation.
Baker seems to like the idea of sticking around beyond this year.
“There’s no secret that there’s a lot of great things going on here,” he said. “I feel like I’m at that point in my career now that I’ve been hurt and things have kind of been taken away from me, and I want to be with a team and organization that are trying to win. There’s no question that’s what’s going on here. I’d definitely be open to see how it goes.”