Kerry Wood pitches ‘whole inning,’ feels good
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org April 2, 2012 10:10PM
Cubs veteran reliever Kerry Wood says his command is good and that he’s feeling strong physically. | Paul Connors~AP
Updated: May 4, 2012 8:14AM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For those concerned about what the lack of innings this spring from Kerry Wood might mean, the Cubs’ setup man seemed to put those concerns to rest Monday in his last spring appearance.
‘‘I pitched a whole inning today,’’ he deadpanned. ‘‘Got to face three hitters.’’
In response to questions about Wood’s five- and four-pitch outings his previous two times out, manager Dale Sveum joked before the game against Arizona that Wood was on an 11-pitch limit.
‘‘I think I hit that,’’ said Wood, who needed exactly 11 pitches to retire the top of the Diamondbacks’ order in a 1-2-3 fifth inning that included a strikeout of Willie Bloomquist.
‘‘I feel good,’’ he said. ‘‘The ball’s been coming out well.’’
And that has been the point all along, the Cubs have said, since Wood’s scaled-back plan for game work became a subplot in camp. He went 10 days without throwing in a game until a one-batter appearance Thursday.
Including another one-batter appearance Saturday, Wood finished the spring with five official innings in seven Cactus League appearances.
‘‘Just a number,’’ Wood said.
More important, he said his energy level is up, his command is good and he feels physically strong. Wood envisions making more than the 55 appearances he had last season — and having fewer of the dry runs when he warmed up but didn’t get in the game.
Wood said he hasn’t had any specific conversations with Sveum about the workload they anticipate, but Sveum said he plans to make a policy of getting Wood in the game if he warms up.
‘‘The only thing I did tell him,’’ Wood said, ‘‘was if there’s a day where something comes up where I can’t go, I’ll personally come in and talk to you. But I think I did that one time with [Mike] Quade last year.
‘‘I think they’re conscious of the up and downs during the course of the game, so I don’t think there’ll be as many as we had last year.’’
If that helps preserve his durability throughout the season, and if he can stay away from the blister problems that cost him three-week DL stints each of the last two years, it might even lead to his first 60-appearance season since 2008.
‘‘I don’t feel that’s unrealistic,’’ he said.
NOTES: First baseman Bryan LaHair, who missed his third consecutive game after developing tightness in his back, is expected to play in Tuesday’s Cactus League finale and be ready for Thursday’s opener.
◆ Jeff Samardzija, who makes his season debut Sunday against Washington, threw four scoreless innings, with six strikeouts, in a tuneup on the minor-league side of camp Monday, cruising on 61 pitches (adding another 30 in the bullpen afterward).
◆ Final word: Alfonso Soriano, whose pop-up to a backpedaling Aaron Hill in the first inning was the first sacrifice fly he thinks he has ever had on a ball hit to a second baseman, said afterward, smiling, ‘‘I’ve been very blessed in this game.’’