Twins righthander Scott Baker to have season-ending elbow surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Baker's 2012 season is over before it began.
The Minnesota Twins righthander will need surgery to repair the flexor pronator tendon in his pitching elbow. The procedure will require a six-month rehab, general manager Terry Ryan said Wednesday at a press conference at Target Field before the Twins played the Los Angeles Angels. The flexor pronator tendon is located on the inside part of the elbow.
Baker, who was 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA last season, learned he would require the surgery after being examined by Dr. David Altchek this week in New York. Baker, 30, underwent an MRI last week on his elbow that the Twins said looked very similar to the one he underwent last July. That MRI showed a minor flexor strain.
Baker was on the disabled list for 18 days last July because of the injury. Altchek has performed Tommy John surgery on former Twins closer Joe Nathan and prospect Kyle Gibson.
"(Altchek) said this is something that's not going to repair itself," Baker said. "It's not going to cure itself. It's something that needs to be taken care of. Fortunately, he said the ligament looked great, so I guess in a way, as bad as this is, the flexor pronator tendon is what needs to be repaired. Nobody hates this more than me. So it's tough."
Baker experienced elbow issues in spring training but that was diagnosed as tendinitis. He made a minor league start last week but threw only 11 pitches before leaving because he could not get the elbow loose.
The pain Baker experienced last season and this spring was caused by the issue with the flexor pronator tendon.
"It's something that I've been battling for a while," he said. "I don't mind pitching through pain, as long as you don't have the chance to further the injury. But when it comes to a point where your velocity's not there and you don't have the ability to finish pitches like you know you're capable of doing, then something's got to be done."
Baker, who was to have been the Twins' third starter this season, signed a four-year, $15.25 million contract in March 2009 that includes a club option for 2013. He will make $6.5 million this season and the option would be for $9.25 million.
No date has been scheduled for the surgery but Baker and the Twins want it done as soon as possible. Baker also will have scar tissue in his elbow cleaned up during the procedure.
Altchek told Baker that his ulnar collateral ligament looked fine.
"He said there's no need to mess with that," Baker said. "I haven't had any discomfort there, which is a good thing. But at the same time, what's going on right now, I just know two things: It's painful and it's affecting my ability to be effective in a major league baseball game. What do you do when that's the case? You have to get it taken care of."
Considering the Twins could decline the option on Baker's contract for 2013, it's possible he's thrown his last pitch for the team.
"Honestly I can't think about that right now," said Baker, a second-round pick of the Twins in 2003. "The Twins are all I've known, and obviously I enjoy it here, so I hope that's not the case. But I just have to really focus on getting healthy. I know the work's going to be there. I'm going to work as hard as I can to get healthy. It's just like I said earlier, if I get healthy, so things will take care of themselves.