Just when it appeared things were looking up for Kerry Wood ...
The fireballing starter-turned-reliever suffered another in a long series of injury setbacks when it was revealed on March 15 that he suffered another arm injury as a result of a pitching appearance on March 11.
The Cubs and Wood had agreed that using him as a reliever could save wear and tear on his arm.
His velocity was up in the mid 90s this spring, but he suffered what manager Lou Piniella calls "a little minor setback" that will prompt him to take a few more days off. Wood has a triceps strain, possibly the result of overstriding on the mound to avoid a hole.
Wood had elbow surgery in 1999 and shoulder surgery in 2005. He agreed to a one-year deal with the Cubs to join the bullpen, and there was a school of thought that he was being groomed as a closer.
But the Cubs insisted all along that they wanted to see how he responded to being a setup man and were interested in how many days in a row he could answer the bell before he would be considered for the closer's spot.
The Cubs have some other health issues in the bullpen as well. Michael Wuertz is recovering from shoulder soreness, and Roberto Novoa is slowly returning from minor injuries suffered in an offseason auto accident in the Dominican Republic.
Those injuries have provided an opportunity for right-handed prospect Rocky Cherry, who had a 1.68 ERA through six appearances in the exhibition season.
LHP Sean Marshall, who came to camp with a balky shoulder, is still hoping to get some Cactus League work. Marshall, who made 24 starts with the parent squad last year, is up to 30 pitches in a session in minor league camp.
RHP Kerry Wood suffered a triceps injury on March 11, and the earliest he likely would return is March 19. The often-injured pitcher, who has been converted into a reliever to save stress on his arm, tried avoid a hole on the mound, and he ended up overextending his stride during his delivery. Prior to the setback, he was throwing the ball in the mid-90 mph range.
RHP Mark Prior has been pulled from the Cactus League rotation and is now working in minor league games as he attempts to rebuild his arm strength. Prior had an 18.90 ERA through two major league exhibition games.
2B Mark DeRosa missed four days of action with a stomach virus but returned on March 15 but batted eighth in the lineup. DeRosa and several other players have been auditioning for the No. 2 spot in the lineup behind Alfonso Soriano.
OF Cliff Floyd, who had offseason surgery to remove bone spurs in his left foot, made his Cactus League debut on March 12 and went 1-for-2 with a double. The left-handed hitting Floyd and Matt Murton figure to platoon in left field this season.
RHP Jeff Samardzija was sent to Class A Daytona on March 12, but the former two-sport athlete from Notre Dame figures to be on a fast track to reaching the majors. He had a 1.80 ERA in five innings at camp this year, and his high-90 mph fastball impressed manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Consecutive hits (two homers and two doubles) that minor league C Jake Fox collected after going into manager Lou Piniella's office and asking for more playing time this spring.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Boy I'll tell you, Scotland Yard is snooping." -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who is getting a taste of the media scrutiny regarding habitually injured RHPs Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.