CINCINNATI – Cubs notebook from July 29
Manager Lou Piniella thinks fireballer Kerry Wood could be ready to pitch for the Cubs by Friday, when the New York Mets come to Wrigley Field. Wood, who’s had his share of ups and downs and twists and turns with injuries in his career, smiled when he heard that. He is to make a rehab appearance for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday in which he would enter the game in the middle of an inning and then pitch the next complete inning. Piniella said that if all goes well after that, “Truthfully, I think the next stop is here - sometime in the Mets series in a good timetable.” Wood is taking a more conservative approach. “We’ll reassess it after I throw it on Tuesday, and we’ll keep it at that,” Wood said Sunday. “Everything is going well so far, and coming back this weekend would be great news. Everything is better than I thought. It’s been going well. It’s something to look forward to, for sure. “But I’ll wait and see what happens after Tuesday. That’s just me being me.” Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, also conservative when it comes to his pitchers’ health, said it was “feasible” Wood could return later this week but added he wanted to see how Wood bounces back from Tuesday’s performance. Wood, who’s dealt with multiple injuries since breaking into the majors at age 20 in 1998, suffered yet another setback with his shoulder in mid-June and thought he was going to have another surgery. But the shoulder finally cooperated and got stronger - his trainer, Brett Fischer, calling it a “miracle.” Wood wouldn’t go that far. “I look at it as a second chance,” Wood said. “A month and a half ago, I didn’t think I would be standing here talking about pitching. It’s a second chance. I was throwing bullpens in Arizona, and two to three weeks before I was in Wrigley throwing on the side, I was trying to play catch at 45 feet and I couldn’t do it. “I was thinking I would have to have another surgery and that would be it, or have the surgery and another long(-deleted) rehab. I was in no mood to do that at the time. I gave it one more shot, and so far, so good.” Wood made back-to-back rehab appearances for Class A Peoria on Thursday and Friday and had a bullpen session at Great American Ball Park on Sunday. An aside: Wood, who turned 30 in June, is starting to feel the effects of having been in the spotlight for 10 years. “A guy in Peoria told me he watched me when he was 11,” Wood said. “That’s the first time I heard that. I told him to beat it.” Murton for Certain? When the Cubs brought up Matt Murton from Triple-A Iowa on Friday, Piniella said the outfielder would start at least once over the weekend. He didn’t start Friday, but Piniella said Murton would start Saturday. Murton was on the lineup card Saturday, but was replaced not long before the game because Piniella said Cliff Floyd plays better at night. So the skipper said Murton would play Sunday. On Sunday, however, Murton still wasn’t in the lineup. Piniella rested left-handed hitters Floyd and Jacque Jones, but started switch-hitting center fielder Angel Pagan in center and Mark DeRosa in right and said Murton would start tonight against Philadelphia. Unless he changes his mind again. Minor Matters Rehabbing catcher Henry Blanco (herniated disc in his neck) caught eight innings Saturday in Peoria’s 4-0 loss to Dayton. He went 1-for-3 and is 5-for-15 with four RBI in his first seven games with the Chiefs. Geovany Soto, normally a catcher, played first base Saturday and hit his 16th homer of the season in Iowa’s 5-2 loss to Salt Lake. Short Hops Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes, who had missed three games with the flu, was back on the air Sunday. ... Aramis Ramirez collected his 300th career walk Sunday. His 299th came back on July 13. ... Carlos Zambrano is 27-7 in his last 44 road starts. More Cubs coverage is at www.dailysouthtown.com/sports.