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Baker has sore elbow after first spring outing

Scott Baker 31 coming off Tommy John surgery is working hard regahis old form. | Morry Gash~AP

Scott Baker, 31, coming off Tommy John surgery, is working hard to regain his old form. | Morry Gash~AP

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Updated: March 18, 2013 11:39PM

PEORIA, Ariz. — Already leading the league in MRI exams, the Cubs sent pitcher Scott Baker for another one Monday after he showed up with soreness in his elbow the day after making his Cactus League debut.

The Cubs consider it a precautionary move and plan to keep him on his pitching schedule if the exam is clean and Baker feels well enough Tuesday to do his between-starts work.

Baker, who had Tommy John surgery in April 2012, struggled to get an out in a long first inning before hitting his pitch limit Sunday.

He has performed well in rehab work and bullpen work all spring without anything more than soreness typically associated with Tommy John rehab.

Exam results are expected Tuesday.

Baker, a former 15-game winner for the Twins who signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal as a free agent last fall, missed all of last season because of the surgery.

Garza in mid-May?

Injured starter Matt Garza is throwing with some intensity from 75 feet on flat ground, manager Dale Sveum said, and the issues with the left lat strain finally appear to be gone.

That likely means throwing from a mound again in the next week or so for the first time since suffering the injury Feb. 17.

And, essentially, starting his spring training at that point.

Depending how soon into the stretching-out process the Cubs bring him back, Garza’s return could come in the middle of May, Sveum said.

“I guess you could say he should be ready seven days after May 1 or seven days before,” he said. “Probably the [former’s] more realistic. … But obviously it could be the middle of May.

“It all depends. Are you going to build him up to maybe 85 pitches and send him out there? Is our bullpen able to handle a piggyback situation if it’s 85 pitches or something like that for three innings or four innings, and you’ve got six innings to deal with after that? … There’s so many things involved there.”

Final thought

As top prospect Javy Baez was sent off to minor-league camp, Sveum compared him once again to a former teammate of his, All-Star Gary Sheffield.

“It’s that kind of bat speed. It’s that kind of violence that goes through the strike zone,” said Sveum, who added that Sheffield was more polished at that age and had over 1,000 at-bats in the minors before breaking in.

Baez, 20, was respectful of the Cubs’ decision, despite hitting .319 with six homers and a .745 slugging percentage (including an exhibition against Team Japan) and said he wasn’t discouraged by the 1,000-at-bat reference.

“Everybody’s got different stories,” he said. “Mine’s going to be mine.”

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