Spring Training: Erasmo Ramirez

Baker enters Mariners' mix

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
5:33
PM ET
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Since the initial Robinson Cano hubbub came and went, the Seattle Mariners’ public relations staff has been busy churning out medical updates on the pitching staff. On Friday, the team announced that Hisashi Iwakuma’s strained right middle finger will remain in a splint for three more weeks, and that Taijuan Walker will refrain from throwing for five to seven days to rest his inflamed right shoulder. Neither pitcher is expected to be ready by Opening Day.

Things are a little iffy in the rotation at the moment behind Felix Hernandez, so it was a positive development Saturday when Scott Baker tossed two shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his Cactus League debut in Peoria.

Baker, 32, was a reliable guy for parts of five seasons in Minnesota. But he missed the entire 2012 season with Tommy John surgery and contributed only 15 innings in Chicago last year after signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Cubs.

Although Baker is in Seattle’s camp on a minor-league deal, the uncertainty in the rotation should give him and veteran lefty Randy Wolf a chance to make an impression. Wolf is making a comeback after missing all of 2013 with an elbow reconstruction.

"It’s the two-year mark [for my surgery], and I keep hearing it and hearing it," Baker said from Peoria Stadium. "Now that I've experienced it, I can see there’s a reason why people talk about it. Last year I felt good, but the only way you really know is to experience it. I feel like I’m able to go out there and let the ball fly without any adverse effects, and that’s a really good feeling."

Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton and Blake Beavan are also in the mix for starting jobs this spring, but Baker is resisting the temptation to count heads in camp.

"I don’t know how that would benefit me in any sort of way," Baker said. "Maybe at one time in my career that would have come into play. But it’s hard enough as it is to focus on getting myself ready. To concern myself with what other guys are experiencing right now is counterproductive."

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