Scott Baker diagnosed with right elbow strain, expected to miss first half of 2013 season

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Scott Baker’s ongoing recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery just got more complicated.

According to beat writer Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Baker was diagnosed Sunday by Cubs doctors with a muscle strain in his right elbow — the same elbow that was surgically-repaired last April.

Baker entered spring training hoping to crack the Cubs’ Opening Day rotation, but he began developing renewed elbow soreness pretty early on and will now be shut down for the next four weeks. If he’s lucky, he’ll be ready to go at some point in late July.

Baker signed a one-year, $5.5 million free agent contract with the Cubs this winter, which looked like a bargain at the time but is now trending in the direction of a bust. The 31-year-old right-hander owns a decent 4.15 career ERA and 1.26 career WHIP in 958 career major league innings.

The Mets expect Tim Tebow to come back next year

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Mets assistant general manager John Ricco told Newsday today that he expects minor league outfielder Tim Tebow to return for a third season in professional baseball.

Tebow, 31, broke the hamate bone in his right hand while swinging a bat in late July, ending his season. It was a fairly successful season for him all things considered. After being promoted to Double-A Binghamton to start the year he hit .273/.336/.399 with six home runs, a stolen base and a .734 OPS in 298 plate appearances and made the Double-A All-Star team. That’s not the stuff of a top prospect — he strikes out far too much and the power numbers aren’t fantastic given that power would figure to be his strongest tool — but it’s pretty respectable for a guy his age and with his relative lack of baseball experience. As I said back in July, you can believe the Mets’ interest in Tebow is more marketing than baseball, but that does not preclude you from giving the guy a deserved tip of the cap for working hard and sticking it out in the bush leagues.

Assuming he does come back, the Mets are likely to start him at Triple-A Syracuse in the hopes that he’d eventually get to the bigs as a late season callup if the Mets aren’t in contention. Indeed, many believed that was the plan for him this year had he not been injured.