Cubs right-hander Scott Baker was terrible while rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery in the minors, posting a 5.46 ERA in eight starts along with reports of mid-80s velocity, yet yesterday in his first MLB start since 2011 he tossed five shutout innings against the Brewers.
Baker obviously hasn’t provided the type of return the Cubs wanted when they signed him to an incentive-laden one-year, $5 million deal and stuff-wise he’s not back to where he was for the Twins before the elbow injury, with Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com writing that he topped out in the high-80s yesterday.
However, he needed just 55 pitches to record 15 outs and threw 39 of them for strikes before exiting for a pinch-hitter. Considering his last start was more than two years ago and his rehab assignment didn’t provide much reason for optimism it was a helluva return for Baker, who’ll likely be looking for another incentive-heavy one-year contract as a free agent this offseason.
Today the Angels introduced their newest big star, Anthony Rendon, who just signed a seven-year, $245 million contract to play in Orange County.
And it is Orange County, not Los Angeles, Rendon stressed at the press conference. When asked about the Dodgers, who had also been reported to be courting him, Rendon said he preferred the Angels because, “the Hollywood lifestyle . . . didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family.”
What “the Hollywood Lifestyle” means in that context could mean a lot of things I suppose. It could be about the greater media scrutiny Dodgers players are under compared to Angels players. It could mean that he’d simply prefer to live in Newport Beach than, I dunno, wherever Dodgers players live. Pasadena? Pasadena is more convenient to Dodger Stadium than the beach. Who knows. They never did let Yasiel Puig get that helicopter he wanted, so traffic could’ve been a consideration.
But maybe it’s a subtle allusion to political/cultural stuff. Orange County has trended to the left in some recent elections but it is, historically speaking, a conservative stronghold in Southern California. And, based on something else he said in his press conference, Rendon seems to be pretty conscious of geographical/political matters:
A shoutout to the notion of Texas being Trump country and an askance glance at “the Hollywood Lifestyle” of Los Angeles all in the same press conference. That’s a lot of culture war ground covered in one press conference. So much so that I can’t decide if I should warn Rendon that both Texas and Orange County are trending leftward or if I should tell him to stick to sports.