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gods-wrathScott Baker returned to the mound in an actual game (of the Cactus League variety) for the first time on Sunday since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. He struggled, but left the start feeling healthy.

Naturally, he felt elbow soreness the next day. Naturally, he had an MRI. And naturally, it detected inflammation and fluid build-up.

Naturally, he’s been shut down.

In the most ominous-sounding write-up in Internet history, Carrie Muskat reports in part, that:

Cubs pitcher Scott Baker had a setback, and his throwing program has been suspended indefinitely. Baker felt some discomfort in his right elbow after his first Cactus League start on [Sunday] and underwent an MRI on Monday. The results of the test were not released, and Baker was to be examined by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo this weekend. There’s no timetable for Baker’s return and the extent of the injury is not known.

The Cubs aren’t going to speculate wildly (publicly) about Baker’s prognosis, but there’s absolutely nothing good to be gleaned here. His mid-April return is completely out the window, and anything before mid-May would be a surprise.

On some level, you can’t feel too scorned by God’s Wrath that a guy who’s recovering from elbow surgery is having elbow problems. Still, that 95% success rate for Tommy John surgery cited by Theo Epstein when discussing the Scott Baker signing? It would feel a bit wrathful to find the Cubs falling into that 5%.

At least the news with respect to injured third baseman is better. Oh, wait. It’s not. Because of course.

Stewart, who’s been battling a “mild” quad strain, hasn’t played all Spring and still can’t run. So, he’s going to start the season on the disabled list. Per Paul Sullivan:

“I can hit and take grounders,” he said. “I just can’t run.”

Stewart said “it doesn’t feel like” it’s been healing, despite the prolonged rest this spring. Stewart will meet with manager Dale Sveum and the training staff this morning to assess his status.

“I know what it’s like to play through pain,” Stewart said. “That’s what’s hard about this. I can’t get through that pain and play with it. It’s just too much.”

Luis Valbuena is your Opening Day starter at third base, with Brent Lillibridge now a lock to make the roster. They might even set up a bit of a platoon there, which could be modestly successful, but the team is worse with them expected to be regulars rather than quality depth.

  • KidCubbie

    Poo Poo. I just wish Stewart could get healthy….

  • magilljl

    This article very accurately sums up my feelings on all the injuries thus far.. because, of course. So frustrating.

  • Edwin

    Aww shucks.

  • Danny Ballgame

    Well shitballs

  • jp3

    Anyone left on the stewart can be an asset to this team bandwagon or is this wagon finally going over the hill unmanned?

    • Cyranojoe

      Yeah, I know I’ve only got about a toe left on that wagon, but that’s only out of a spirit of “god I hope we get something useful out of him in the end”….

  • Cyranojoe

    Glad we stocked up on starting pitchers. This is the risk you face when we sign guys with injury histories. But for some reason I can’t be as blase about Ian Stewart as I am about Baker. Why is that? He kinda pisses me off. I try really hard not to blame a guy for his injuries, but something about his whole history with the Cubs grates at me like I’m the cheese…

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      You are not alone, my friend. You are not alone.

    • Chet Masterson

      “This is the risk you face when we sign guys with injury histories”

      I think you meant to say

      “This is the risk you face when you are a pitcher”

  • Believe in 2015

    This news is so frustrating. It pretty much gives the Cubs no chance at a hot start in April and May. And you know what that means, lose every game possible and dump players for the last three months of the season. I’m really only looking forward to seeing the minor league clubs this year, as sad as that might sound.

    • Cyranojoe

      Well, we do get to watch for Rizzo & Castro’s overall development, and hope that Barney gets better at the plate…

      • Edwin

        I think one of the most interesting things to watch about Rizzo is how he handles LH pitching. If I recall, he struggled with it last season.

  • Jiujitsu411420

    Looks like Baker could be out for a while. Lohse anyone? I’m defenitely open to it now especially if we wait till May so we don’t lose a draft pick.

    • spencer

      You high bro? (harper ref.) Signing Lohse would not make the Cubs a contender and would cost them a precious draft pick that could help em in a few years.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

    Congratulations to Clevenger for making the team.

    I was a big offseason proponent of “we have a chance if things go right,” but I think that ship has sailed. You can still let them play out April and hope for some crazy luck, but I’m guessing you can start planning the fire-sale by mid-May. And I wouldn’t rage too hard if they started it immediately.

    • hansman1982

      Yup…I now feel 100 losses is attainable.

      Basically, the 2 biggest things that we needed to go right for us to contend, went awfully.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

        If we sell everything that’s not under contract for next year, we get:

        Hairston/Jackson/Schierholtz
        Awful/Castro/Barney/Rizzo
        Castillo

        Samardzija/Jackson/Wood/Villanueva/Rusin

        That probably limps you home to 68 wins or so. We’d need another major injury to a key player to get to 100, I think.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Indeed. Surprise contention was going to require, among other things, a healthy and VERY rebounding Ian Stewart, and a dominant rotation.

        I don’t see those things happening for the Cubs … and a big uptick for Castro/Rizzo plus Soriano holding steady (also critical for contention) aren’t going to make up for it.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

          Kick-start the rebuild even harder. If we’re going to do this, let’s *really* do it.

          Call up the Cardinals and offer them Castro and Samardzija to gut their farm system.

          We get Tavares, Miller, Rosenthal and Wisdom.

          • DarthHater

            Do you think St Louis would make that trade?

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

              I think so. SS is basically the final piece of their triforce. Fix that hole for them and they become all-powerful.

              • DarthHater

                Then make it so. :-P

              • hansman1982

                It also fixes that hole for 10-15 years.

                • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

                  Yeah, but I don’t want them to have Tavares become a Pujols type for those same 15 years.

          • hansman1982

            Why would we trade a 22 year old to amp up the rebuild?

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

              Because it brings back a lot more guys that age or younger, including the best hitting prospect in baseball.

              • hansman1982

                Meh…I’d rather keep the prospect-aged guy who has proven he can be a top-5 SS in baseball unless it’s the difference between getting 1 of those guys or all 4.

                Then it’s a tough damn decision.

            • DarthHater

              We’d be trading a 22 yo and a 28 yo for a 20 yo, a 21 yo, and two 22 yos. If the four acquisitions are good enough, that certainly could constitute amping up the rebuild.

  • Peter

    I don’t know why the Cubs will always be fucked, but it looks to stay that way for a while, hooray.

  • willis

    Two awesome signings. Stewart is such a joker. I just wish he’d go bye bye. Two years in a row he’s stolen money from this organization. And when he gets back, he won’t do much anyway.

    On Baker, who didn’t see this coming? Sign a guy less than a year removed from TJ and expect him to contribute much substance, let alone early on? Ugh.

    Baker wouldn’t hurt so much (knowing he’ll be out a pretty long time) if we knew a thing about Garza. But we don’t. Going to be another terrible year. 100 losses here we come…again.

  • Dustin S

    Baker is a pretty big blow. Maybe he just pushed things a bit early and it’s not a sign of a more chronic problem. He had been aiming for the early end of the recovery timeline so there’s some hope there.

  • RY34

    Surprise Surprise, well not really!

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

    Some things we could have done for the combined cost of Stewart, Baker and Rivero:

    1) Not signed Schierholtz and paid for the first year of BJ Upton.

    2) Paid for a full year of Ryan Dempster, Rafael Soriano, or Michael Bourn, all of whom were quite flippable if that’s your thing (and yes, I know two of them were pick-tied).

    3) Paid for three years of Jeff Keppinger

    4) Put a down payment on the Wrigley renovation or Rosemont Stadium

    5) Burned it in a pile for warmth.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

    Between his comment and the seven-year wrist injury, maybe Ian Stewart just has some sort of slow-healing problem?

  • rbreeze

    We won’t see Baker until the All-Star break. And for Stewart maybe May 15th if that. He is a walking accident waiting to happen. Glad we have the pitching depth but once again 3rd base is an eye sore. Please grow up fast Javy Baez!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Dude Abides

    No one should be surprised about these injuries the majority of pitchers we have picked up were either rehab, reclamation or basically unproven international players both in the majors and minors.

    We weren’t winning this year but if we can get two or three of these guys to make a contribution IE Samardzija last year mission accomplished by Theo. Big picture starts next year if we are lucky. By the way we aren’t very lucky…

  • DarthHater

    “I know what it’s like to play through pain,” Stewart said. “And I don’t want any part of it.”

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Dump Stewart now. The only reason he’s still on the roster is face saving for Theo.

    • willis

      Agreed. Not sure the obsession of this guy from this front office, but damn it’s there. Be better just to send him packing, take the medicine and pray like hell there is some development made this year at that position in the minors so the hole can be filled by All Star Break or next season.

    • Cubbie Blues

      ” The only reason he’s still on the roster is face saving for Theo.”
      Actually they couldn’t even if they wanted to. The Players Association would never allow it. He hasn’t had enough playing time and you can’t cut someone because of injury

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

        Well, they *could*. They just have to pay him full salary either way.

  • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    The worst thing with the Stewart move. If/when he’s ready to rehab, he’s goig to take away at bats from players that have a chance to actually help a team. All this for a guy who is going to hit .220?

    • willis

      LOLOLOLOLOLOL .220. In our dreams.

    • Edwin

      Eh. Who exactly will he be taking at bats from? It’s not like the Cubs have that many options at 3B anyways.

      I don’t think Stewart will ever pan out, but $2M isn’t that much to fret about, and he’s not blocking anyone.

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        Vitters, Lake, maybe Villuenueva? None of them longterm solutions, but better than Stewart in the shortterm.

        • Edwin

          Sure, and if the Cubs cut Stewart I wouldn’t shed any tears. I just don’t think Stewart would actually block anybody. Lake and Vitters are both fringe prospects at this point, and Villuenueva is still a year or two away anyways.

        • hansman1982

          None of those three are ready for full-time MLB play. The only thing you can say that Stewart has done, is cost us playing time at 3rd base for a 3rd baseman that doesn’t really exist.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

        $2 million for a worthless 3b, $5.5 million for a rehabbing pitcher, $3.1 million for an unimpressive 25-year-old Cuban pitcher. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

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  • Jim

    If Rusin can have another successful outing, does he have a chance at the rotation? I was not impressed with Feldman’s last outing.

    I seem to feel that Sveum is enamored by Luis Valbuena. To me, I feel like we are playing a utility player in an important position. I think I would be more excited about the season if the Cubs put Vitters at 3B and just gave him a few months to prove himself. He has proven that he can hit at every level, he just needs some at bats to show that … so give him the at bats! We aren’t going to win with Valbuena anyways, so we might as well find out if Vitters is a bust or not.

    • Diggs

      I think Sveum just really doesn’t like Stewart, and that’s why he’s all about Valbuena.

      In terms of Vitters, I don’t think he has the defense to make the Cubs feel comfortable playing him at third every day.

  • MightyBear

    The Scott Baker news makes me want to puke.

  • baseballet

    So to start the season we have a platoon in right field and a platoon at third base. Is CF also a platoon? Do we have three platoons going with no end in sight?

    • King Jeff

      The Giants played with 4 platoons last year. I think they did okay for themselves.

  • MikeL

    Starting to sound like another 100+ loss season….

  • Tommy

    “I know what it’s like to play through pain,” Stewart said.”

    No Ian. No, you don’t.

  • dan

    The only thing I know is it’s the damm goat’s fault

  • Spriggs

    Shocking, right? Any bets on Who’s Next? Shark, Castro or Rizzo??

  • another JP

    There was always the possibility this could happen with both guys, so it’s disappointing but shouldn’t be a surprise. We don’t really need Baker right now given we weren’t about to contend for the playoffs anyway- let him rest until after the AS break. I like the way Valbuena has progressed and think he might finally figure it out on the ML level this year. If Stewart can’t even run after this much time off it really shows a lack of conditioning on his part- how the heck do you run for 180 feet legging out a double and end up out for a couple months? What happened with his quad is a classic case of overworking a muscle to injure it and how does a 28 year old guy allow that to happen?

  • Awakeape

    With the baker news this is the reason we have shark, garza, wood, Villanueva, Feldman, and Jackson. Not only to deal them and still have a semblance of a rotation but also with the chance not everyone is going to be healthy throughout the year. Also most of them are just stop gaps until next year.

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