No damage to Baker’s right elbow


March 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher

Scott Baker

(32) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

One of the low-risk, high-upside acquisitions of Theo Epstein and company this offseason was right-hander Scott Baker. In his first, and only, Cactus League start this spring, the 31 year-old felt what he described as discomfort in his throwing elbow, and has not seen action since.

On Monday, Baker received good news from Cubs’ team orthopedic specialist, Dr. Stephen Gryzlo.

“It’s always nice to have some clarity when dealing with an injury,” Baker told writer Carrier Muskat on Monday. “Any type of setback is not fun and there’s never good timing for any sort of setback, but knowing what we’re dealing with helps us deal with it better, obviously. With the type of injury it is, Doc likened it to a scab. You can’t pick at it; you have to let it heal and rest and get back after it after that.”

Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2012 season with Minnesota, where he spent his entire career before coming to Chicago this offseason. In seven years with the Twins, Baker compiled a 63-48 record and a 4.15 earned run average. His best year came in 2008, when he posted an 11-4 mark.

There is no timetable for his return to the Cubs rotation at this time. Previously, Baker had been aiming for a mid-April return, but has not been cleared to return to baseball activities at this time. Epstein and the rest of the Cubs front office appeared very confident in choosing to sign Baker during the offseason, evidenced by a statement he gave to ESPN Chicago at the time of the signing.

“The reality is that it’s not exactly a buyer’s market for pitching right now so you have to take your risks,” Epstein said. “Do you want to take a risk on the guy with bad makeup? Do you want to take the risk on the guy with bad command? Or do you want to take a risk on a guy you really believe in who’s coming off Tommy John surgery at an appropriate value point? I think we are very comfortable placing our bet on Scott Baker.”