Kerry Wood’s iffy shoulder could start domino effect in Cubs’ pen
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 18, 2012 9:24PM
Starlin Castro lands on the Marlins’ Jose Reyes during a double play in the first. | J Pat Carter~AP
The facts: 11:40 a.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Jeff Samardzija (2-0, 3.95) vs. Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.46).
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:47AM
MIAMI — Even if Kerry Wood returns to the Cubs bullpen this weekend as the team hopes, manager Dale Sveum said his durability and workload will remain a long-term concern.
“Yeah, you’re going to have concerns,’’ Sveum said. “There’s a track record there.”
Wood, whose pitching shoulder has periodically bothered him since the start of spring training, hasn’t pitched since Friday. He had a cortisone shot Wednesday morning.
“He already said he felt relief from it, so that’s good,’’ Sveum said. “Hopefully, he’s ready to go on Friday.’’
Even in that best-case scenario, Sveum needs to discover or develop more late-inning options to bridge games to closer Carlos Marmol because Wood’s work will be watched and parceled closely.
“When he gets up, he gets in a game,’’ Sveum said. “And we’ll see what happens when the weather gets better, as far as going back-to-back games. But it’ll still be an every-other-day thing until we know he’s feeling great and he’s really strong.’’
Rafael Dolis, who pitched the seventh and three batters into the eighth on Tuesday, moves into Wood’s primary setup role for now, with left-hander James Russell looking like the next option to move into more late-inning work, Sveum said.
Sveum said he has no immediate plans to bench center fielder Marlon Byrd, even to give him part-time at-bats with favorable matchups to help him get out of a deep slump.
“A lot of times when people aren’t swinging the bat well, matchups really don’t mean anything,’’ Sveum said. “He’s going to get the majority of playing time and we’ll just see what happens after 100 or so at-bats.’’
When he singled in the fifth inning Wednesday night to snap an 0-for-12 skid, Byrd’s league-worst batting average improved to .083 (3-for-36).
“I thought he swung the bat a lot better today in early batting practice,’’ Sveum said before the game, “so hopefully there’s some adjustments made. Even his swings Tuesday I thought were much more aggressive and not so defensive.
“But we’ve got to get him going. That’s a big part of our lineup. He’s been playing a real nice center field. So it’s nice to see — he’s playing hard. He’s working his butt off to get out of it.’’
The Cubs’ pitching staff entered the day tied for fourth in the majors with seven quality starts, but they had the least to show for them. They were 2-5 in those games, winning only the near-complete games pitched by Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza during the opening homestand.
◆ Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad, a South Florida native who made the “Florida’’ Marlins’ final start last season before the Marlins moved to their new stadium and changed their name, missed pitching in the new park during the Cubs’ only trip to Miami. “It would have been cool to throw here for sure,’’ he said, marveling at the difference between Marlins Park and the football stadium the team used to play in. “It’s a huge change. It was obviously needed.’’