We learned earlier this week that Scott Baker had trouble getting loose in a B-game on Saturday, which “raised some red flags” about his throwing elbow. The Twins and Baker continue to downplay the severity of the issue, but it’s increasingly likely that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list.
According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said this afternoon that Baker needs to make it through bullpen sessions on Saturday and Monday before being cleared to return to game action. Barring any setbacks, the soonest he’ll pitch in a game again will be next Thursday against the Orioles. This would set him up to potentially start two more games before the team breaks camp, which Mackey estimates would put him in the range of 80 pitches.
Baker still hopes to start the team’s home opener on April 9 against the Angels, but he also doesn’t want to rush back too soon.
“If that’s what we need to do, that’s what we need to do,” Baker said Friday when asked about the possibility of starting the season on the disabled list. “I know I would love to make the home opener start, and as far as I know that’s still the case. But you’ve got to do what’s smart and wise, and do whatever it takes to get ready for a long season.”
The Twins won’t need a fifth starter for the first time until April 15 against the Rangers, so giving him some extra time might be the most prudent approach.
Baker, 31, posted a career-best 3.14 ERA and 123/32 K/BB ratio over 134 2/3 innings last season. He was limited to just four starts and two relief appearances after the All-Star break due to a strained flexor muscle in his elbow.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.