The Cubs tried to spin it as a positive development: Scott Baker’s season isn’t already over.

This diagnosis doesn’t confirm the worst fears about a pitcher who had Tommy John surgery almost 12 months ago. But there’s also no chance he’ll be ready by the mid-April or early May target date the Cubs had talked about this spring.

One week after Baker couldn’t finish the first inning in his Cactus League debut – his first game in almost 18 months – the Cubs announced he wouldn’t throw again for at least another month because of a right elbow strain.

“It’s bad news,” manager Dale Sveum said before Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. “It’s somebody that we were counting on to be there, whenever it was going to be. … That’s bad news whenever you lose a little bit of depth and it’s just going to take a little bit longer.”

The Cubs understood the risks when they gave Baker a one-year, $5.5 million deal and the chance to regain his form as a big-league starter. They still think he could be a factor sometime this summer.

The Big Three was supposed to be Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson. One week from Opening Day, the Cubs will begin the season without 40 percent of their projected rotation and the third baseman they sort of thought could win the job.