MESA, Ariz. -- When the Cubs signed injured pitcher Scott Baker last fall, team president Theo Epstein touted the "95-percent" success rate of Tommy John surgery as a big reason the $5.5 million risk was worth taking.
But not even Baker could keep from wondering if he was a unfortunate 5-percenter while he waited for a week to see the team orthopedist after his elbow flared up during a spring training start.
"You can tell yourself as much as you want to that it's not the case," he said Monday morning. "And you can believe whatever you want. But until you sit there and Dr. [Stephen Gryzlo] and Dr. [David] Altcheck both confirm that that's not the case ... it makes you feel pretty good for sure."
The surgeons determined Sunday that Baker's setback was caused by a muscle strain in the elbow and not from any damage done to the re-fitted tendon.
Baker, who underwent the reconstructive surgery April 17 and missed all season, says there's "no doubt" in his mind he'll return to the mound this season to help the team.
But with his throwing shut down for a month, a best-case scenario now looks like mid-season instead of the mid-April return he and the team originally forecasted.
"It is disappointing," Baker said. "For one, I feel like I've sat out enough. I don't want to sit out any more than I've already had to. It's going to be at least a month more than we were originally anticipating. It's tough.
"But I've come this far. I'm not about to give up or give in. I'm just going to continue to try to get ready to pitch at whatever point during the season that is."