Baker to start Sunday for Cubs
The Cubs made a little news this morning when they said right-hander Scott Baker will come off the 60-day disabled list Sunday and start the series finale against the Brewers. That will push Travis Wood to Monday against his former team in Cincinnati.
Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012 while with the Twins. He made 1 start for the Cubs in spring training after signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with them last fall, but he suffered a setback and has been trying to come back ever since.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked, and he’s worked his butt off,” said manager Dale Sveum. “There hasn’t been any setbacks, and I think he deserves a chance to start and see what happens.”
Baker’s velocity probably isn’t where it needs to be with his fastball, but he’s been saying he knows how to get guys out.
The Cubs talked the last couple of days about what to do with Baker. Initially, they said that if he came off the DL, it would be as a reliever. But Baker has been a starter his whole career, and he no doubt did a little lobbying.
“You know what?” he said. “I think they definitely valued my opinion on it. I said I feel like I need to pitch. I want to pitch, and we talked about this earlier, whether it’s here or there or wherever. I definitely appreciate the opportunity to get back out there. It’s going to be fun, for sure.”
Right-hander Daniel Bard also made it to Wrigley Field and threw for pitching coach Chris Bosio. The Cubs claimed Bard off waivers from Boston on Wednesday. He had been a setup man with the Reds Sox few years ago before they tried to make him a starter.
Things did not go well, and Bard also is coming back from an abdominal injury.
“I think it started with the move to starting,” Bard said. “I don’t think it was necessarily a bad move in itself. We started changing too many things to turn me for a reliever to starter whereas I probably could have taken the pitcher I was out of the bullpen for four years and dropped that into a starting role.”
It’s not certain when or if Bard will get into a game for the Cubs. When Baker comes back Sunday, they’ll have to take someone else off the 40-man roster.
From the game notes: Chris Rusin starts today for the Cubs. He has a 2.74 ERA, the lowest of any rookie left-handed starter this season (minimum 9 starts). Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani (2.80) is second, and the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu (3.02) is third … Shortstop Starlin Castro is hitting .314 (16-for-51) with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 7 RBI in his last 12 games dating to Aug. 23. He has hit safely in 11 of those games, with a .379 OBP.
Class AA Tennessee got just 4 hits in Game 1 of the Southern League North Division series and fell 3-1 to Birmingham. Nick Struck took the loss, working 5 innings and giving up 6 hits and 3 runs while walking three and striking out three. Rubi Silva provided the scoring with a homer. John Andreoli was 2-for-3. Christian Villanueva was 1-for-3, a double.
Class A Daytona shut out Charlotte 5-0 in Game 1 of the Florida State League championship series. The Cubs have not allowed an earned run in 27 innings of postseason play. Pierce Johnson worked the opener of the Charlotte series and pitched 5 innings, giving up 5 hits while walking none and striking out six. Zeke DeVoss was 2-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 doubles and a stolen base. Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI. Dustin Geiger was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI. Anthony Giansanti was 2-for-4 with a double and a run.
Daytona won 11 of 12 games leading to the postseason.
“It's awesome. We're unconscious out here,” DeVoss told Sean Kenan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “Our pitchers are making it real easy on us. When you get the kind of pitching we've been getting, it's easy to score a few runs.”
“I can't say enough about our pitching,” Daytona manager Dave Keller told the paper. “The pitchers have just continued to challenge each other every night. Nobody's giving up any runs.”
Added Johnson in the same story: “Everybody keeps on setting the bar higher. It's just fun. We're feeding off each other, and we keep getting better as the year goes on. I've never been a part of anything like this. “The team chemistry on and off the field is great.”
Boise (A) will host Vancouver tonight in Game 1 of the Northwest League championship series. Dillon Maples will start for Boise.