Baker's patience pays off with another shot
HOUSTON -- Scott Baker had two chances to walk away from the Rangers. He has turned down both and now he is back in the big leagues.
Baker was called up on Wednesday to be the Rangers' long reliever as Justin Germano was designated for assignment. Baker knows what that feels like because the Rangers designated him for assignment last Thursday after he pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief against the Rockies the previous day. Baker had just been called up from Triple-A Round Rock that day.
The Rangers had to drop Baker from the roster because they needed an extra arm in the bullpen. Baker threw 79 pitches and wasn't going to be available for another three days. The Rangers couldn't wait and had to call up Germano.
"Obviously it had nothing to do with the results," Baker said. "I could see the writing on the wall. I could see there was still an immediate need for a pitcher. I was cautiously optimistic my performance would allow me to stay, but I couldn't have done anything for three days. I couldn't help the team. I didn't take it personally."
The Rangers put Baker through outright waivers. He cleared waivers, meaning there wasn't a big league opportunity elsewhere, and had the right to take his free agency. But he lives in Shreveport and wanted to stay close to home.
"It just didn't make sense to go anywhere else," Baker said. "I know there is as great a need here as there is anywhere else."
The Rangers will use Baker in long relief for now. They are looking for a fifth starter and Baker has made 162 starts in his career. He was a 15-game winner for the Twins in 2009. But he is not going to knock on somebody's door and tell them that he's ready to go into the rotation.
"There are two types of guys in baseball," Baker said. "Those who are humbled and those who are about to be humbled. At this point, I've had a great career. I'm happy to be here to contribute in any way, shape or form."
Baker, who missed almost two years in 2012-13 because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, was signed to a Minor League contract in Spring Training. The contract included a provision allowing him to take his free agency on May 1 if he was not in the Major Leagues. Baker declined to do so then as well.