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.

Orioles designate Pedro Alvarez for assignment

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The Baltimore Orioles are terrible and going nowhere fast, so they decided to do some shuffling of the decks today.

One part of that was to called up catcher Caleb Joseph, which was the corresponding move to sending down Chance Sisco the other day. Joseph will now be big league teammates with brother Corban. Aww.

Another thing they did was to purchase the contract of Steve Wilkerson from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s a utility guy who has been swinging a hot bat after getting a late start to the season due to a 50-game drug suspension. Good for him, but that’s bad news for Pedro Alvarez, who was designated for assignment in the corresponding move.

Alvarez, 31, started the season well but has been atrocious for most of it. His line on the year is .180/.283/.414 with eight homers, but he’s been far worse than that for over a month. The 2013 NL home run champ will now go through waivers and, at the end of that process, likely have to choose between free agency or a trip to Norfolk. And, given that it’s the worst team in baseball sending him packing, there’s a good chance that it could be the end of the big league road for him.