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Wood's shoulder stiff day after rough outing

MESA, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood's chances of being ready for
Opening Day were dashed by another injury.

The Chicago Cubs' former ace hurt his right shoulder pitching in
relief Sunday and was experiencing more stiffness than usual
Monday, one week before the Cubs open the season in Cincinnati.

Wood will not be ready for the first game and will be placed on the disabled list.

"No, that's not going to happen," manager Lou Piniella said
Monday. "Let's just hope it's not serious and he can resume
preparing himself. Obviously, we'll give him time."

Wood appeared in only four games last season and was trying
to make a comeback from a partially torn rotator cuff, an injury he
chose to rehab rather than repair with surgery.

"Certainly this is a setback for him," Piniella said. "It's a
shame, because Kerry has really worked hard, put in a lot of time
over the winter, and he was disappointed in the setback."

Wood experienced soreness in his shoulder Sunday, when he
allowed a homer and three runs in one inning against the Los
Angeles Angels.

"He said he felt it yesterday during the game, and then it got
achy," Piniella said. "Obviously, his strength wasn't the same.
But he had more unusual stiffness and he had some soreness in his
shoulder."

Wood was not available for comment Monday after a meeting in
Piniella's office.

"Yesterday, he was upset. Today, he was more realistic about
this. He's hoping for the best," Piniella said.

In his previous outing Friday, Wood pitched a scoreless inning
of relief -- his first appearance in 12 days after being sidelined
by a triceps injury. Earlier this spring, he slipped while getting
out of a hot tub, setting him back a couple of days.

"We felt that by bringing him along slowly and not pushing him,
that there was a reasonable expectation that he'd be ready by
opening day," Piniella added.

It seems as though something always goes wrong for Wood, the
1998 NL Rookie of the Year who struck out 20 Houston Astros in his
fifth major league start.

There was elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1999 and
shoulder surgery in 2005. Now, Wood could be headed for the
disabled list again. He's been there 10 times in his major league
career.

"He's obviously put a lot of work in and you know obviously he
wanted to be at the top of his game. He feels badly that he's not
100 percent," general manager Jim Hendry said. "Hopefully, we'll
get him right and hopefully it won't be significant. It's not about
helping us next Monday as much as helping us over the long haul."

The Cubs could also start the season without another pitcher
who's been beset by injuries -- Mark Prior. Prior has made only
three appearances this spring after being limited to nine starts
last season by a sore shoulder.

Prior pitched well in his most recent outing last Thursday,
giving up one run in four innings. He is scheduled to pitch
Wednesday and a decision could be made after that appearance on how
or where he will start the season. Wade Miller has pretty much
sewed up the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Wood (14) and Prior (18) combined for 32 wins in 2003 when the
Cubs came within five outs of the World Series. In three years
since, they have just 30 victories total, with Prior winning 18
games and Wood only 12.

"I felt all along that both of them would contribute,"
Piniella said. "I just wasn't sure about the timetable. And you
know they are both coming off physical ailments, and in Woody's
case he's learning a new position, pitching out of the bullpen as
opposed to starting.

"So I felt that it probably would be a long shot to have both
of them ready by Opening Day."

Wood returned to the Cubs this season with a one-year, $1.75
million deal that could be worth up to $6 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.