With the Cubs nearly out of playoff competition -- 7½ games back
in the wild card before Monday night's game with the Dodgers -- the
team wanted to give Wood as much time as possible for recovery and
Wood concurred with the decision, general manager Jim Hendry
"I got a bit of a small obstacle to overcome this offseason. I
fully expect to be ready when camp starts," Wood said after
pitching his final inning Monday night in a 9-6 loss.
Wood, who made his first major league relief appearance Aug. 5
in a switch from the rotation to alleviate the soreness in his
shoulder. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek at
Beacon Orthopedics outside of Cincinnati.
"None of us, including Dr. Kremchek, are anticipating anything
significant, but it is a shoulder," Hendry said, adding that the
long-range plan is for Wood to return to the rotation once he
"I think that is what we all want him to do. I think that's
what he would like to do," Hendry said.
"If he can pitch pain-free and this ongoing discomfort he's had
after a certain amount of pitches, if that can be rectified, then
you are going to have the same guy you are seeing one inning for
seven or eight. That's really everybody's priority."
Wood, the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year, missed the 1999 season
after elbow ligament-replacement surgery. He was put on the DL with
a triceps injury last season and has been on the disabled list
twice this year with the sore shoulder.
Wood is 3-4 with a 4.23 ERA this season. He started 10 games and
made 11 relief appearances, including a scoreless innings Monday
night. His fastball in relief has been popping in the high 90s, and
he's had no recurrence of the arm soreness, which generally would
start after 50 or 60 pitches.
"I certainly don't think it could be a real significant injury.
It's hard to believe someone could throw 98 mph and have a serious
arm problem. He hasn't had any discomfort at all," Hendry said.
"I wouldn't be able to throw the way I've been throwing if
there was something seriously wrong, something torn in there,"
"I'm expecting them to go in there and send me on my way."
Trainer Mark O'Neal said it's not uncommon for a pitcher who
throws as hard as Wood and who has thrown as many pitches in the
majors to have fraying or irritation in the rotator cuff area.
A cleanup procedure may be all that is necessary. That's what
the Cubs expect.
"We are going to go in and try to find out what is going on,"
O'Neal said. "That's why we are doing what we're doing -- to find
out why he does have this breakdown when the pitch count gets up a
O'Neal said if nothing significant is discovered during the
procedure, Wood will be ready for spring training after an
offseason of rehab.
As a 20-year-old rookie, Wood stunned the baseball world in his
fifth major league start when he struck out 20 Houston Astros and
pitched a one-hitter. He missed the following season after elbow
surgery and then had win totals of 12, 12 and 14 from 2001 to 2003,
a year in which when he won two games in the division series
But with his arm problems and those of teammate Mark Prior, the
Cubs have not made it back to the playoffs.
"It is what it is. Hope it comes out well and hope it's not
anything serious," manager Dusty Baker said.
Wood has made no secret he wants to be a starter again, although
he had struck out 17 of the 45 batters he had faced in relief
Baker couldn't commit to that right away.
"It depends on the severity of his injury, how he feels upon
recovery and upon rehab," Baker said. "I don't have any answer to
that right now."