Kerry Wood on track for Thursday

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Kerry Wood on track for Thursday

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.

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

The Cubs continue their series with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night in the nation's capital, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app.

Coverage from the District of Columbia with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies begins at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the game for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: John Lackey (5-8, 4.74 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.57 ERA)

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#Back2BackOneDay: What is Bryce Harper trying to say about his future, Kris Bryant and the Cubs?

#Back2BackOneDay: What is Bryce Harper trying to say about his future, Kris Bryant and the Cubs?

Bryce Harper someday joining the Cubs has been prime speculation fodder this summer.

But does Harper know something we don't?

The Washington Nationals superstar — who's slated to become a surely record-breaking free agent after the 2018 season — posted a picture of him and fellow Las Vegas native Kris Bryant on Instagram after Tuesday night's game between the Cubs and Nationals in the nation's capital.

A nice picture, sure. But the important part is the hashtags, one of which is #Back2BackOneDay.

Oh really, Bryce?

Is baseball's biggest star hinting at a potential future in a Cubs uniform, batting right behind Bryant, the Cubs' current All-Star third baseman and reigning National League MVP?

Let the speculation train continue to roll down the tracks. Harper's certainly providing enough energy.