Baker will take it slow in comeback from surgery
Coming off Tommy John procedure last April, Cubs righty pleased with progress
MESA, Ariz. -- Scott Baker threw about 40 pitches at 70 percent effort on Tuesday, the first workout day for Cubs pitchers and catchers, but the right-hander will be "babied" this spring in his comeback from Tommy John surgery, manager Dale Sveum said.
Baker has been encouraged by how his arm feels heading into camp in his first season with the Cubs.
"I feel I'm much farther along than I was at this point last year," he said. "It was such a battle to get ready for last year's Spring Training. Sometimes I think when you're healthy, you're healthy, and it's allowed me to prepare for the season at a much greater capacity than I've had in the past couple years and it's exciting."
Last April, Baker had been scheduled to have surgery on his flexor pronator tendon, but when doctors did the surgery, they decided to repair the ligament, and the pitcher underwent reconstructive elbow surgery. Pitchers normally take 12 to 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery. Sveum would not commit to whether Baker will be ready for the first week of the regular season.
"We're not going to put a timetable on it," Sveum said Tuesday. "We're going to ease him into it and see how it works."
The Cubs do have depth, so they can afford to give Baker more time. He has been throwing since mid January and was looking forward to reestablishing himself following the surgery.
"It's just a matter of getting back into the routine and getting back into the 'pitch ability' part of it and getting back to facing hitters," he said. "That's the biggest test for me because I haven't done it for so long. As far as health, I feel great."
But he's not quite 100 percent.
"I'm as far along as I'm supposed to be right now," Baker said. "I would say '100 percent' would be pitching in games, and obviously, there are no games to pitch in. That's part of the process ... using Spring Training to prepare for the season."
Retired Wood in camp as special instructor
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs can't retire No. 34 yet. Kerry Wood still needs it.
Wood, 35, is listed as a special instructor on the Cubs' Spring Training roster. The pitcher, who retired last May after 14 seasons, including 12 with the Cubs, joined the coaches to watch the pitchers throw their bullpen sessions on Tuesday at Fitch Park.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he hopes some of Wood's experience rubs off on the young players.
"The presence of those guys -- sometimes a young player will listen to a Kerry Wood more than a Dale Sveum," Sveum said. "It's just a presence and giving him the opportunity to get on this side of the wall and see if he enjoys this part of it, front office, development, whatever it might be."
Wood, who finished with 1,582 strikeouts, is expected to be in camp off and on throughout the spring.
Jackson recalls role in Cubs-Nats altercation
MESA, Ariz. -- On Sept. 6, benches cleared in the game between the Cubs and Nationals after Chicago's Lendy Castillo threw inside to Bryce Harper. Edwin Jackson was on the Nationals' staff at that time. Now he's with the Cubs. Where was Jackson during the fight?
"I wasn't a negotiator," Jackson said Tuesday, "but I was kind of right there."
Video replays show Jackson charging out of the dugout along with his teammates and needing to be restrained by Washington bench coach Randy Knorr.
"I was a peacemaker, but I was right there," Jackson said. "Somehow I end up in the middle regardless of whether I'm doing anything or not. I can just be standing around, just watching everyone and observing and oh, like, 'Oh man, I'm in the middle.'"
The television cameras caught Jackson yelling from the sidelines and the Nationals broadcasters said the pitcher was "still hot" after the players had been separated. Jackson said he didn't recall specifics.
"I was just standing around, watching what was going on," he said.
Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger was fined and suspended one game after the incident.
• One of the goals of the new front office last season was to create a manual, titled "The Cubs Way," to make sure everyone in the organization learned the fundamentals of the game the same. On Tuesday, the player development and coaching staff met to discuss the guide and make any tweaks necessary.
Sveum joined general manager Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, plus all the scouts and the Minor League managers for organizational meetings on Tuesday. "The Cubs Way" was on the list of topics to be discussed.
"For the most part, it's pretty much done," Sveum said of the manual, adding he doesn't want the development staff to feel restricted by the guide. "You don't take away coaching just because there's a manual."
• Matt Garza, Jackson, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol are among the pitchers scheduled to throw bullpen sessions on Wednesday. Position players report Saturday, with the first full-squad workout on Sunday at Fitch Park.
Several position players have already reported, including Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Brett Jackson, Darnell McDonald, Dave Sappelt, Logan Watkins and Matt Szczur.
• It was chilly Tuesday with temperatures in the upper 30s and frost on the ground at Fitch Park. Not exactly what many of the players expected for Spring Training.
"I was driving, and I was like, what is this white stuff? What is going on? Is it snowing here?" DeJesus said. "It seems like early in spring, you get that downpour of rain and a couple cold days, but as spring goes on, it's one of the best places to be."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.