Team hopes pen will reduce Wood's arm stress
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.
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."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press