Naturally, Scott Baker would like better results.
But he also knows what goes into getting those results, and it's not there yet.
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Baker, who has been on the Cubs' disabled list all season, made his second rehab start Friday night for the Kane County Cougars, against Great Lakes at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
He lasted just 22⁄3 innings, giving up 6 hits and 6 runs while throwing 60 pitches as the Cougars lost 8-6 in a game shortened by rain to 7 innings. Coupled with this past Sunday's start at West Michigan, Baker has given up 12 hits and 10 runs in 52⁄3 innings while walking four and striking out three.
In Friday's game, Baker walked the leadoff hitter in each of the first three innings.
"You'd like to see better results, there's no doubt about it," said Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, performed in April 2012 while he was with the Twins. "But I think that's a byproduct of having good mechanics and being able to execute pitches. Right now, that's just not the case.
"I'm kind of feeling for it a little bit mechanically. I've made these adjustments before. It's just focusing on the portion that I have control over, which is making those adjustments in the bullpen and hopefully taking them out to the next start."
It's been a slow go for the 31-year-old Baker, whom the Cubs signed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract last November.
He made only 1 spring-training start and did not feel right. He rehabbed in Arizona before making his first rehab start Sunday.
The rehab period lasts 30 days, and the Cubs hope he can rejoin them after that, but it's questionable whether he'll be ready, based on his stuff and his mechanics. Baker didn't throw much higher than the mid-80s (mph), even though he said he was able to use all his pitches.
"I have to be realistic," he said. "It's been literally two years since I've been making starts. That's a lot of time. As much as you'd like to come out here and be firing bullets and striking everybody out, that's not realistic. It's getting better as far as pitchability, but at the same time, if you're not executing pitches or throwing the ball where you want to, you're not doing yourself any favors."
If Baker can come back, he could give the Cubs a veteran presence in the rotation if they trade Matt Garza, as has been rumored.
Baker said the elbow feels fine. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said recently it can take time for a pitcher coming off surgery to "let it go" with his pitches.
"It's a funny thing," Baker said. "As much as I'm trying to let it go, it's just not coming out as much as I'd like because everything's got to click. I want that pitching motion to feel like one fluid, in-rhythm, everything-feels-good. It's just kind of feeling like a bunch of different pieces. That'll come. Sometimes it's like a light switch. Sometimes you have to get back to the basics and find the keys that you need to focus on."
He added that he doesn't know where his next start will be.
"If the results had been better, I would like to think that I would progress at least up a level," he said. "The next bullpen session will be important. They (the Cubs) have been very good about asking me how I feel and where I'm at in this whole process."