Scott Baker had elbow surgery shortly after the end of last season, spent time on the disabled list in July, and has been very successfully pitching through various levels of discomfort for much of this year, but it sounds like the pain may finally be too much.
Baker allowed five runs in six innings against the Red Sox last night, serving up multiple homers for the first time since June 6, and afterward revealed to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the elbow problems may have progressed past the point of tolerable:
I have no problem pitching with some discomfort as long as it’s something that’s not going to get worse. I’m OK being a little sore, but if you’re not effective because of it, then that’s a different story. So we’ve got some things to talk through. It’s not as bad as it initially was. It’s just really kind of lingered for a while, and it takes a lot of work to get loose. I guess there’s never an ideal time for this. It’s never easy, but you don’t want to be that guy that has to go on the DL, if that’s the decision they make.
Baker’s velocity has slipped in recent outings and he failed to make it beyond the third inning last week, so with the Twins rapidly plummeting out of the playoff picture it makes sense to play it safe. In between the elbow soreness he has a 3.21 ERA and 120/32 K/BB ratio in 132 innings and if healthy is a bargain for the Twins at $6.5 million in 2012 with a $9.25 million option in 2013.