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.
Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.
Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.
Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.
Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.