MESA, Ariz. Kerry Wood made his big-league debut during the middle of the Clinton administration, against a team that no longer exists (the Montreal Expos). So hes been around long enough to have an idea of what it takes to get ready for Opening Day.
Even if, as Wood pointed out, it took almost a week for the Chicago media to notice that he hadnt pitched recently, it still raised eyebrows because of his injury history. The Cubs say its all part of the plan to preserve a hard-throwing reliever who will turn 35 in June.
Wood last appeared in a game on March 18. He threw on Monday and then completed a bullpen session on Tuesday. It went well enough to where the Cubs felt comfortable moving up his timeline. Hes scheduled to pitch Thursday against the San Diego Padres.
The Cubs were initially projecting Saturday for Woods return. In theory, he could pitch every other day before leaving Arizona and finish with appearances in seven Cactus League games, which is around what the Cubs say they targeted. Its unclear if thats how camp will end.
Wood pitched nine innings last spring, went on the disabled list with a blister on his right middle finger in June and by September was shut down with a knee injury. But he still wound up appearing in 55 games, and the Cubs believe they can manage his workload better. The idea is to save as many bullets as possible for the regular season.