Prior, Wood Willing to Change

As oft-injured Mark Prior and Kerry Wood prepare to open the 2006 season on the disabled list, critics continue to question their dedication toward improving on their mechanics.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild insists that the two star pitchers have been agreeable to change, but that neither will ever achieve perfection.

"Nobody has perfect mechanics," Rothschild said. "I don't know what perfect mechanics are. You go from Tom Seaver to (Juan) Marichal to (Sandy) Koufax. There are points in a delivery you want to be settled and right, but different guys do it different ways."

Prior is currently nursing a shoulder strain, while Wood is coming off shoulder and knee surgeries. It's unknown when Prior will be able to return, but the Cubs are hoping Wood will be ready in early May. Neither is expected to throw in a Cactus League game this spring.


--RHP Angel Guzman, who is trying to earn the fifth spot in the rotation, gave up two runs in three innings against Arizona on Monday. Guzman is enjoying a healthy spring training after battling arm injuries the past three years. Originally the Cubs were planning on sending him to the minors at the beginning of the season, but numerous injuries to starting pitchers have put him in the mix.

--LHP Rich Hill, who is a candidate for the fifth starting spot to open the season, pitched three scoreless innings against Arizona on Monday. However, he walked three batters in three innings. The Cubs have been concerned with his control, and even though he blanked the Diamondbacks, his walks are not helping his cause.

--1B Derrek Lee is back in camp after playing in the World Baseball Classic, but he has a minor shoulder injury. He is hoping to return to Cactus League action by Tuesday, but the Cubs think he may need a little more time and may return later in the week.

--RHP Roberto Novoa has been diagnosed with Valley Fever, a lung infection that will keep him out of action for a few more weeks. He is unlikely to be ready for the season and probably will be sent to Triple-A Iowa when he is healthy.

--RHP Michael Wuertz could be on the bubble if the Cubs open the season with 11 pitchers. The Cubs bullpen is already crowded, and his Cactus League ERA of 18.56 is troublesome, even in the hitter-friendly Arizona environment. Wuertz led the club with 75 appearances in 2005 but could end up in a fight to make the parent club.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Day the Cubs were in first place in 2005. It came after they beat Arizona 16-6 on Opening Day, April 4.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's true when they say time flies. You always hear the older coaches and the older players coming in and telling you to cherish the time you have now because it flies, and they were right. They were right." -- Veteran pitcher Greg Maddux, who turns 40 in April.

Northsiders Report Top Stories