Wood, Sosa back soon for Cubs?

Updated: June 10, 2004, 8:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa should be back at Wrigley Field next weekend after a detour through Tennessee. The Cubs are hoping that Kerry Wood will return soon after that.

Kerry Wood
Wood

Sammy Sosa
Sosa

Sosa will go to Jackson, Tenn., on Sunday for a three-game rehab assignment with Double-A West Tenn. He'll return to Chicago next Wednesday and, if there are no problems, be activated for the Cubs' June 18 interleague game against Oakland.

"I didn't know the injury I had was going to take so much time," Sosa said Thursday. "I feel great now. I'm happy to know that I'll be playing in Wrigley Field again next Friday."

As for Wood, general manager Jim Hendry told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that the right-hander could be pitching for the Cubs within two weeks, barring any setbacks over that time. Wood has been sidelined since mid-May with a triceps strain.

The plan is for Wood to make one or two rehab starts in the minors. However, Wood still feels discomfort when he reaches an extension point on his throws, so the projected return date is tentative.

He has been examined by three doctors and the club said none of them found serious structural damage.

''He's been to different doctors and they say there is nothing structurally wrong with the elbow or anything,'' manager Dusty Baker told the Sun-Times. ''He says he feels good until he gets to the point of extension. I talked to Bob Welch about it and [maybe] it's a spur or something. [Sometimes] you got to throw through it, whatever is happening.''

The prognosis for closer Joe Borowski isn't as good. Tests showed "some damage" in his right shoulder, and he will be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum this weekend. Yocum will then consult with Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, the Cubs' orthopedist, on a diagnosis and treatment.

"You want an answer right away, but I'd rather know for sure then hear one thing and then find out something different," Borowski said. "I'd rather know for sure and make sure everyone's on the same page."

Sosa has been on the disabled list since May 16 with a sprained ligament in his lower back brought on by two violent sneezes. He had some lingering soreness Wednesday after taking batting practice for the first time Tuesday.

But his back felt fine Thursday and he hit in the batting cage without any problems.

"I've been doing all the exercises the therapist told me to do," he said. "So far so good."

So now it's on to Tennessee. Sosa has done only one other minor league rehab stint in his career, and that was way back in 1992 so he's not quite sure what to expect when he goes to Tennessee.

"I don't know, I might be hitting lefty," he said, laughing.

Sosa didn't want to do a rehab stint initially, but he decided to go after remembering how he struggled at the plate last year after coming off the disabled list. He was 0-for-11 when he returned and struck out eight times, including a five-strikeout game against Houston.

"Last year, when I had my injury, I came back too soon and didn't look too good at the plate. So let me have a couple of games to see some live pitches," Sosa said.

Though Borowski set a team record with 22 consecutive saves dating to last Aug. 5, he never looked like himself this year. There were questions about his velocity in spring training, and Borowski didn't have the same sharpness as he had last year when he had 33 saves or in 2002, when he led the bullpen with a 2.73 ERA.

He was 2-4 with a 8.02 ERA in 22 games, and had nine saves in 11 chances.

General manager Jim Hendry, Cubs manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Larry Rothschild all asked Borowski if there was something wrong, but the right-hander said no.

"It was never a pronounced discomfort," Borowski said. "It was just some days I'd feel fantastic, some days I'd feel tired. That's what was tricking me. It was never a prolonged agony or pain. That's why it was tough to assess earlier.

"If everybody, when they were a little sore or aching, sat out, you wouldn't field a team," he added.

Borowski finally went on the disabled list Sunday and spent the next few days going through a battery of tests. Hendry wouldn't say exactly what showed up on MRI, describing it only as damage.

"The MRI can be a little inconclusive, so we would prefer for Joe to see Lewis Yocum and let Dr. Gryzlo and Dr. Yocum work on what they think it is for sure and then the right approach for rehab," Hendry said.

LaTroy Hawkins has taken over as the Cubs' closer, and Borowski said his role is his last concern right now.

"I just want to be able to get back out on the field and pitch as soon as possible," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE