Scott Baker to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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When the Cubs signed right-hander Scott Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million contract over the winter, they were hoping that he would be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery by the early part of April. It didn’t turn out that way, as he suffered a setback with his elbow during his first Cactus League start and has yet to throw a pitch for the club this year. However, he could contribute soon.

According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Baker will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Low-A Lake County. Pitchers are permitted to spend 30 days on a rehab assignment and Baker figures to need most of it in order to get stretched out, but he could be an option for the Cubs’ rotation by mid-August if all goes well.

Baker, who had Tommy John surgery last April, owns a 4.15 ERA over 958 innings in the majors. While it has been a lost season until this point, the 31-year-old could head into free agency on a positive note.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.