Cubs' bullpen hurting after losing Wood

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Cubs' bullpen hurting after losing Wood

Updated: 5:53 p.m.

Despite a 71-91 season last year, the Cubs' one consistent strong point was their bullpen, which finished ninth in the MLB in ERA at 3.51.

Considering the weaknesses throughout the rest of the roster and in the farm system, new front office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer decided to leverage some of that strength.

Left-handed stalwart Sean Marshall was traded to the Reds for three young players while flame-thrower Andrew Cashner was dealt to the Padres for first base prospect Anthony Rizzo. On top of that, Jeff Samardzija moved to the rotation, leaving three vacancies in the bullpen.

The Cubs' relief corps took another hit Friday as veteran Kerry Wood was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue. The move is retroactive to April 14. In a corresponding move, the Cubs called up 27-year-old lefty Scott Maine.

"We felt just to be safe and get him completely ready to go instead of waiting a couple days to see how things went after tossing or throwing off the mound," manager Dale Sveum said. "We had to shore up the bullpen to make sure. The move is back-dated anyway, for last Saturday. We should be OK. Hopefully he'll be on the DL just about eight days."

This is Wood's 16th trip to the disabled list in his 15-year career. Sveum is hoping the DL stay will help keep this latest shoulder issue from extending through the rest of the season.

"I think that's part of the reason why we decided to just DL him because we don't want this to carry on," Sveum said. "We wanted to get it done and get him strong for the rest of the season.

"So far, it sounds like the injection has helped a lot."

Wood has made four appearances this season and is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA. Cubs relievers have struggled all season, ranking near the bottom of the league in ERA, which took another hit Friday after Shawn Camp, Lendy Castillo and Rafael Dolis each allowed an earned run in their respective inning of work.

Maine was the only Cubs pitcher to escape unscathed against the Reds Friday, striking out two and walking one in a scoreless inning.

Maine, 27, was part of the group of lefties vying for a spot in the Cubs' bullpen in spring training. The Cubs opted to break camp with only one left-handed reliever -- James Russell -- on the roster, sending Maine down to Triple-A.

"I'm not going to say I wasn't disappointed," Maine said. "I understand where they were coming from because I did walk a few people in spring training. But I went down and threw well and the opportunity opened up here, so hopefully I can capitalize."

The past two seasons, the Cubs haven't had to worry about a left-hander reliever with Marshall in town. But all that changed shortly before the turn of the calendar when the Cubs dealt the 29-year-old southpaw to the Reds for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes.

Marshall made his return to Chicago Friday and met with the media before the game, but did not pitch against the organization that selected him in the sixth round of the 2003 draft.

It was the first time he had stepped foot on Wrigley Field as a member of the visiting team.

"It's different," Marshall said. "I'll always be a Cub. I loved all my days playing here at Wrigley Field and playing for the Cubs. But I understand it's baseball and I've been lucky so far. So I just have to move on and do my best to win a championship.

"It's good to see familiar faces," Marshall said when asked how it would be to face off against old teammates. "I got to say 'Hi' and talked to some guys in spring training and then again here today before batting practice. It's cool and I'm always up for a challenge."

Marshall trained with Wood some this winter and was disappointed to see the longtime Cub land on the DL.

"I hate to see Woody hurt," Marshall said. "He's a great person. He's always a wonderful teammate. I played catch with him nearly all winter this year. It's tough to see him have a little setback. He'll be fine. He's in good shape. He was working out hard and in the best shape I've ever seen him in this winter."

Cubs playing it safe with Kris Bryant's ankle

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Cubs playing it safe with Kris Bryant's ankle

Cubs nation can breathe a sigh of relief: Kris Bryant is considered just day-to-day with an ankle injury.

In fact, Bryant may even see game action in the latter innings of Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves.

Bryant suffered the ankle injury running the bases Thursday and a precautionary MRI showed nothing more than a mild sprain.

The Cubs kept him out of the lineup for Friday's action and Bryant will stay in the training room at the beginning of the game. 

But if the team needs his bat late in the game, that could be a possibility.

"We'll know game-in-progress whether or not he's able to hit late if we need that," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cubs lineup is deep, but they can't really afford to be without Bryant for any extended period of time with Kyle Schwarber already lost for the season and Miguel Montero placed on the disabled list Thursday.

That's a big reason why they opted to play it safe with Bryant's ankle and give him time to heal so this doesn't become a lingering issue.

"[Ankle injuries] are tricky," Maddon said. "[Cubs trainer P.J. Mainville] seems to be optimistic about this whole thing. I think if we just kinda rest him a little bit right now and not really abuse it right now, then it should go away relatively fast.

"The thing with sprained ankles is always if you re-jam it somehow. That's the problem. You could be feeling fine after maybe a week or two weeks and all of a sudden, you just hit it wrong and you feel it.

"The biggest concern is always that somebody's not able to hurt themselves further. You can play with a soreness as long as there's no threat for a greater injury."

Bryant is currently hitting .289 with an .878 OPS, four homers and 15 RBI through the Cubs' 16-5 start.

For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

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For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

Andrew Ladd’s second stint in Chicago was, in some ways, like his first one.

He had good teammates and enjoyed being around them again. He had nothing but good things to say about the organization that welcomed him here for the second time in his career.

The only difference was the abrupt postseason ending.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Ladd said during Wednesday’s wrap-up interviews. “You bring your family here and move your whole life. You want to make a run for it, make it worthwhile. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.”

Ladd’s stay with the Blackhawks is likely to be a brief one. They traded for the veteran, who was part of their 2010 Stanley Cup team, figuring he could be a key piece for another run. It wasn’t to be. Ladd had a quiet postseason, recording just two points in the Blackhawks’ seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues.

“It was a tight series, could’ve gone either way and that’s life,” he said. “You move on. Just happy to have the opportunity to come back and be a part of this group again.”

Ladd has reached that point in his career where he can look at the big picture. He’s won two Cups, one with the Blackhawks and the other with the Carolina Hurricanes. His family grew by another member earlier this month; Ladd brought his his son Walker Gordon, born April 14, home on Tuesday.

“It was a good day after what happened in St. Louis,” Ladd said. “It kind of put things in perspective when you can come home and take your mind off everything else.”

As for Ladd’s continuing hockey career, he said it’s not about getting the lucrative contract anymore as much as it’s about playing for a winner.

“I think I’m at the point in my career where I can make decisions based on being in a good situation. At the end of the day it’s not all about money for me. It’s about being in a good place for my family and being on a team that’s going to contend every year,” Ladd said. “You’d be crazy not to want to be a part of this group and this organization. We’ll see what happens.”

Chances are the Blackhawks and Ladd will not be together in the near future. The Blackhawks are once again facing a salary-cap crunch and, if there is a high-priority signee for them, it’s Andrew Shaw. Even that possibility is a tough one.

Still, Ladd’s not ruling anything out. Ladd’s latest playoff run with the Blackhawks was much shorter than he or they would have liked. But the Blackhawks have the pieces to contend again, and Ladd wouldn’t mind being a part of it.

“Every guy’s at a different point in his career in terms of what he wants to accomplish, whether he has a family or he’s getting on later in his career and wants to be part of a contender,” Ladd said. “There are a lot of things that go into that. You evaluate that individually and try to make the best decision possible for yourself and for your family. At the end of the day, you try to do whatever’s possible to be a part of a group and an organization like this.”

Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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