9/6/2013 7:57 P.M. ET
Baker to start on Sunday for first time since 2011
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Scott Baker will get to start after all.
The right-hander, who has spent the season rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in April 2012, will start on Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Earlier this week, manager Dale Sveum said that Baker would not start, but the pitcher lobbied.
"They definitely valued my opinion," Baker said of the conversation he had with Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio. "I said, 'I feel like I need to pitch, I want to pitch.' I appreciate the opportunity to get back out there. It's going to be fun for sure."
Baker, 31, said that his family would be at the game.
"It's been a long while since I started a Major League game, and there's definitely a lot to be excited about," he said. "Regardless of the results, I think you go out there and do the best you can and enjoy it. You never know when things are going to be taken away from you. You appreciate every start."
Baker's last big league start was on Aug. 8, 2011, for the Twins. He made two relief appearances the following month.
"He's done everything we've asked and worked his [behind] off," Sveum said on Friday. "There haven't been any setbacks, and I think he deserves a chance to start. We'll see what happens when the third deck [of the stadium] gets on there. He'll be the first one to say his stuff doesn't have the life, but you put the third deck on a stadium and find out with the adrenaline and all that. I think he deserves the right to do that."
The Cubs signed Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million contract this year; there is no option for 2014.
"It's good for all parties, obviously [for] us and for him as much as anything," Sveum said about Baker pitching now. "This is a guy coming off Tommy John, and he's had to be down in Arizona the whole year, and he's done everything we've asked and been the ultimate professional and worked hard. It is good for him going into the winter, and good for us to see and evaluate to see what's going to go on after this."
But Baker isn't looking too far ahead.
"We had conversations about what to do next, and they value my opinion," Baker said. "I thought it was important for me to pitch and pitch through September. I just told them there's no way I can sit here and say I want to not pitch in a Major League game after going through this rehab process for two seasons. I'm just excited."
Baker spent a long time rehabbing at the Cubs' facility in Mesa, Ariz., and he made eight Minor League rehab starts for Class A Kane County and high Class A Daytona combined, giving up 18 earned runs on 35 hits and 10 walks over 29 2/3 innings while striking out 16.
"Physically, I feel great," he said. "I think surgery was a long time coming for me. I'd dealt with some elbow issues for a couple of years, and it was really a battle to get loose and stay loose. Every start was a process.
"I feel like I'm still the same guy. I'm not in presurgery [form], and I think everybody knows that. I do think I will get there at some point, whether it's this September or next season. Nothing's ever come easy for me. I've always had to figure things out and work hard."
For now, the Cubs will simply push the starters back one day. They will not go to a six-man rotation, but Sveum isn't sure what will happen the rest of the month.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Sveum said. "Let him start on Sunday, and evaluate and see where we are then."
Bard's whirlwind week ends in 'pen session at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- It's been a crazy summer for right-hander Daniel Bard, who found himself throwing a bullpen session at Wrigley Field for the Cubs on Friday, ending a week in which he'd been in four states in five days.
The Cubs claimed Bard, once considered one of the best setup pitchers in baseball, off waivers from the Red Sox. For now, he'll work with pitching coach Chris Bosio on the side, which he did on Friday. There is no timetable as to when he will get in a game, manager Dale Sveum said.
Bard's session didn't start well, as he cut his thumb on his first pitch and it started to bleed. The right side of his pant leg was stained in blood, but all that was needed was a bandage.
When he was designated, Bard said, he was in "baseball limbo" and not sure what would happen next.
"I was ready to hit free agency this offseason, which was fine, and then this opportunity came about, and God's plans are a little better than mine," Bard said. "I was happy to hear from [president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein]. We had a good chat and talked about the plan moving forward, and here I am.
"He's a guy who has seen me at my best and at my worst," Bard added of Epstein, who was Boston's general manager when he selected Bard in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. "It's pretty awesome to have somebody you know is on your side."
Bard's struggles started when he was switched from the bullpen to the rotation.
"I don't think it was a bad move," he said on Friday. "We -- the coaches over there and myself included -- tried to change too many things to turn me from a reliever to a starter. I could have just taken the pitcher I was in the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would have been fine.
"We tried to overhaul in Spring Training and throw more changeups, cut the ball, sink the ball, change speeds with the fastball, things that I hadn't done in the past. It worked a few times, and I had some good starts, but it got me out of my game, and it's been a little bit of a journey here the past year, and some injuries have gotten in the way as well. I'm healthy now. [To have] a fresh environment to start working in is really exciting for me."
Bard had been bothered by a strained abdominal muscle, and two months after that happened, he retore it in a different spot and went about three months without pitching in a game.
Brewers' Aoki gives assessment of Lim
CHICAGO -- New reliever Chang-Yong Lim was a teammate of Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki for three seasons in Japan, so who better to give a scouting report on the right-hander?
"He has a lot of confidence in his pitches," Aoki said through his interpreter prior to the Brewers/Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday. "He wouldn't try to miss bats, he'd just go right after you."
Before joining the Cubs, Lim spent 17 seasons pitching professionally in Korea (1996-2007) and Japan (2008-12). He also has pitched for Korea in a number of international events, helping his country to a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and second place in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Will it be awkward if Aoki has to face Lim in a game?
"No. I'm a professional, he's a professional," Aoki said. "He wants to get me out, and I want to get a hit off him."
He smiled and added: "He's a nice guy."
That's always good to know.
• Class A Daytona beat Charlotte, 5-0, on Thursday in the first game of the Florida State League championship. Pierce Johnson struck out six over five scoreless innings for the win. The Cubs scored in the first on Dustin Geiger's RBI groundout, Daytona scored three runs in the second on Pin-Chieh Chen's three-run double and Geiger added a RBI double in the fourth.
The second game, scheduled for Friday in Daytona, was postponed because of rain; the two teams will resume the series on Saturday.
Double-A Tennessee lost, 3-1, on Thursday to Birmingham in the first game of the Southern League North Division Championship Series in front of 4,862 at Regions Field. The Barons lead the best-of-five series, 1-0.
Trayce Thompson hit a leadoff home run in the fourth off Smokies starter Nick Struck (0-1). Tennessee answered in the fifth when Rubi Silva connected on a homer off Barons starter Chris Bassitt to tie the score at 1. Thompson and Dan Black each hit RBI singles in the Barons' fifth. Bassitt picked up the win, giving up one run on three hits.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series was to be played Friday at Regions Field in Birmingham, Ala. Dae-Eun Rhee (5-1, 3.34) will start for Tennessee.
• Outfielder Dave Sappelt, who was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for Zac Rosscup, cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa. On Friday, the Cubs announced that right-hander Michael Bowden and outfielder Cole Gillespie, who were both designated for assignment on Wednesday, had also cleared waivers and were assigned outright to Iowa's roster.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.