May 25 was the Chicago Dogs’ home debut and a milestone for the independent franchise in Rosemont. It was also an important evening for their starting pitcher.
Scott Barnes, a 30-year-old left-hander and a member of the 2016 Iowa Cubs, made his first appearance of any kind since June 23, 2016. In August of that year, Barnes had Tommy John surgery and started on an uncertain future.
Almost two years later, Barnes was back on the mound for the first time. Getting there meant a lot, and returning on such an important evening for his new team made it sweeter.
“It was definitely something to build off of and a very good confidence boost for me, as well, because you put in a lot of time and effort, but you cannot replicate game speed,’’ said Barnes, who allowed one run in three innings that night. ‘‘To be able to get out on the mound again and to be able to compete, it was one of the most meaningful outings of my life. To be able to get that reassurance that all that hard work over almost two years had paid off.’’
Drafted in the eighth round in 2008, Barnes has pitched in the minors for the Giants, Indians, Blue Jays and Cubs. He also appeared in 22 major-league games for the Indians in 2012-13.
After the injury, Barnes wanted to pitch again. Whether it was in affiliated or independent ball didn’t really matter.
‘‘Just knowing that you’ve put in all this time and effort into getting back, it was very fulfilling to come back and to be able to pitch again,’’ he said. ‘‘That was always my goal after I had the surgery. I wanted to pitch, no matter what level it was at. If it was affiliated or non-affiliated baseball, I still wanted to be able to give it another shot.’’
Entering his scheduled start Wednesday, Barnes had pitched 29.1 innings and had a 3.99 ERA. He was especially encouraged by his appearance Friday, in which he allowed one run in seven innings and threw a season-high 105 pitches.
‘‘I don’t want to stop playing,’’ Barnes said. ‘‘Baseball’s always been in my life, and if I can physically do it and meet the call every five days and be able to go out there and give my team a chance to win, then I’m going to continue to do that as long as I can.’’