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Article updated: 7/14/2013 11:39 PM

Baker takes next step in comeback

By Bruce Miles

Right-hander Scott Baker began his minor-league rehab stint Sunday with the Kane County Cougars.

Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery, performed in April 2012 when he was with the Minnesota Twins. He made 1 spring-training start for the Cubs on March 17, but he suffered a setback and has been taking it slowly ever since.

In a 5-2 loss Sunday at West Michigan, Baker threw 56 pitches, 34 strikes, as he worked 3 innings of 6-hit ball. He gave up 4 runs, all in the first inning. Baker walked one, struck out two and gave up a home run.

The Cubs aren't so much concerned about the pitching lines in the early going as they are Baker pitching in competitive situations after he threw simulated games in Arizona.

"I didn't get a pitching-coach report; that will come in later," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "I think right now for him, especially the way he is, it's just getting the work in and getting comfortable and understanding when you have these things, you just don't want to let it go yet. I think today was a big hump to pitch against hitters and getting in a real game and the whole atmosphere, and hopefully we start seeing a gradual pickup in the velocities and all that."

Baker could be back by mid-August, and if the Cubs trade any more pitchers, he could fill a rotation spot.

Another new guy:

The Cubs activated Cole Gillespie, whom they claimed off waivers Saturday from the Giants. To make room, they designated relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez for assignment.

Gillespie, 29, is a right-handed batter, and he's expected to share time in right field with Nate Schierholtz. Dave Sappelt started Sunday against the Cardinals

Gillespie was a teammate of Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney on Oregon State's 2006 national-championship team.

"It's exciting, I'm not going to lie," Gillespie said. "When I heard the Cubs claimed me off waivers, the first thing I thought of was some old teammates with Darwin and Cody Ransom. The whole process was pretty exciting."

Manager Dale Sveum described Gillespie as a "fundamentally sound" player.

"I'm kind of a gap-to-gap guy," Gillespie said. "I like to hit doubles (with) occasional pop and power. I feel like I can steal some bases for the team and play solid defense."

Gillespie got into three games for the Giants this year. At Class AAA Fresno, he had a line of .277/.361/.455 with 9 homers and 31 RBI.

Power and speed:

Alfonso Soriano entered Sunday leading the Cubs in homers (16) and stolen bases (10). The last Cub to lead the team in both homers and stolen bases at the all-star break was Sammy Sosa in 1998, with 33 homers and 10 steals.

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