One of the newest Cubs joined Jeff Joyce and Mike Stanton during MLB Roundtrip (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) on Thursday night. Scott Baker was very open about his recovery from Tommy John surgery and why he signed with the Chicago Cubs.
After discussing the recent announcement of Miguel Cabrera winning the AL MVP over Mike Trout (Baker said that Cabrera would have received his vote for MVP due to the ballpark and the fact he just mashes the ball), Mike Stanton congratulated him on signing with the Cubs and asked how his arm is doing. Baker quickly replied, "My arm is doing great actually." Baker explained that he is taking ownership of this rehab and trying to make sure he is ready to pitch.
Baker said he talked with several guys that had Tommy John surgery, including Joe Nathan. Baker explained that his conversations with Nathan led him to choose Dr. Altcheck to perform the surgery. He did not know at first he was going to need Tommy John until he went under the knife. Baker thought he was just going to get the flexor tendon cleaned up. Baker found out that the UCL was useless and that was the reason the flexor tendon kept flaring up. Baker pitched with pain for several years and when the pain stopped he knew something was wrong. Baker acknowledged that despite the rehab program being monotonous, he knows it is strategic and has long as he follows doctors' orders, he will have a full recovery.
Once Baker became a free-agent, the Cubs showed very strong interest. Baker explained that things stalled out with the Twins and several teams showed interest. Baker acknowledged that there were teams probably "just kicking the tires" but there was serious interest from several teams, including the Cubs. He was looking for a place he could be successful next year and he thinks the Cubs is the right place for him.
Scott Baker admitted that he did not want to sign a multi-year deal or a one-year contract with an option. Baker said he let all of the teams know he was only looking for a one-year deal. Baker wants a chance to re-establish himself then come out again [free agency] and test the market. There were several teams that were interested in signing him to a one year contract but he feels the Cubs are the right situation for him.
Baker feels good about pitching with the Cubs. He knows the Cubs did not have the type of season they would have liked last year. Baker spoke with Theo Epstein and the coaching staff and thinks the Cubs will be cautious with him through the rehab process. As for pitching at Wrigley Field, Baker said if he makes the pitches he's capable of then there will not be a problem.
Scott Baker and Matt Garza were teammates for a short time in Minnesota. Baker did not speak with Garza before signing with the Cubs but plans to talk to him and a few of his other new teammates.
Baker said he is on track to be ready to go when Spring Training begins. He is already long tossing and will begin his mound progressions in a month or two. Baker explained that will take him into Spring Training. Baker is hoping to treat his Spring Training starts as his rehab starts but he is not sure if the Cubs are going to let him do that or not. He has to play it [rehabbing the elbow] by ear and not try to act like the injury never happened.
Scott Baker strained his elbow ligament in college. He feels blessed and fortunate to have made it 11 years without having surgery. Baker said he has nursed the ligament and elbow so long that he is looking forward pitching without pain and without having to worry about it [the elbow] anymore. Baker is looking forward on just focusing on pitching.
Scott Baker said there is no doubt in his mind that he will have a full recovery.