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Team hopes pen will reduce Wood's arm stress

7/26/2005 - MLB Kerry Wood Chicago Cubs + more

CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood's troublesome right shoulder sent him
back to the disabled list Monday. And when he's able to pitch again
for the Chicago Cubs this season, it will be out of the bullpen
instead of the rotation.

There is also the possibility Wood will need offseason surgery
to clean up the shoulder area.

"I'm in favor of whatever's going to stop my arm from hurting.
It's as simple as that," Wood said Monday.

Wood will go on a rehab assignment once he's ready, where he
will try to make the transition to the bullpen. Once he rejoins the
Cubs, he'll be used as a reliever in an attempt to reduce the wear
on his shoulder.

Wood said surgery as a last option was not something he was even
thinking about at this point.

"I'm just trying to feel better so I can go out and pitch," he
said.

If Wood does need the cleanup surgery after the season, he would
be ready for spring training, trainer Mark O'Neal said.

"Anytime there's a lot of rubbing and irritation that goes on
inside the joint, the rotator cuff usually gets a little irritated
and frayed, and the same thing with the labrum as well," O'Neal
said. "So you go in and basically clean that out, simply put. It's
something that at this point and time we all feel comfortable
that's going to need to be done. It's just a matter of when."

Why not do it now?

"Because he still has a chance to help this team," O'Neal
said.

Wood, 3-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 10 starts, had a cortisone shot
Thursday after lasting only three innings and giving up three
homers the previous day in a 9-3 loss at Cincinnati.

The sore shoulder sent Wood to the disabled list the first time
May 3 and he came off June 29, making three minor-league rehab
starts. He was also bothered by a sore shoulder in spring training.

He threw on flat ground in the outfield Monday and said his
shoulder is improving but still not 100 percent.

"We're to the point now where either it's going to rebound from
the shot and I can continue to throw ... and I'll be back out there
... but if not, we'll have to look at another option," Wood said.

Wood missed the 1999 season after elbow ligament replacement
surgery -- commonly known as Tommy John surgery. His career has been
dogged by injuries since he made such a brilliant splash in the big
leagues by striking out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth major-league start. He went on to win the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year
award.

He went 8-9 last year when he was on the disabled list for
nearly two months with a lower right triceps strain.

Now he's going to try to save this season by pitching in relief.

"I don't care if I can come out and get one guy out and it
helps us win, then I'll do that. But I'd like to go out there for
more than just one inning. But at this time, this is kind of what
I've been dealt. If I can get healthy and get strong again shortly
and be back out there and try to contribute somehow," Wood said.

Manager Dusty Baker said there was no definite plan for what
role Wood would have out of the bullpen. One transition Wood will
have to make will be warming up quickly during the game instead of
before it.

But it will mean fewer pitches during the game and maybe help
Wood's arm.

"Usually it [the discomfort] comes up somewhere between 60 and
70 pitches or something like that," Baker said. "That's the
thinking behind it. Woody wants to try that before we take a more
serious measure. ... This might be better for him in the short run,
so we're going to try it."

The Cubs recalled left-hander Rich Hill from Triple-A Iowa to
take Wood's roster spot and gave him the start Monday night against
the San Francisco Giants.