Cubs' bullpen hurting after losing Wood

726410.png

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."

Honda Road Ahead: Blackhawks look to get back on track to close regular season

Honda Road Ahead: Blackhawks look to get back on track to close regular season

Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd break down the Blackhawks' upcoming schedule in the latest edition of the Blackhawks Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

There are less than two weeks left in the NHL regular season and teams are jockeying for playoff seeding.

The Blackhawks have the best record in the Western Conference with 103 points. The Blackhawks' next two opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, also have 103 points. Washington leads the league with 106 points.

Wednesday the Hawks will travel to Pittsburgh. Two days later they host the Blue Jackets.

After that, the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins on Sunday. Boston is in line for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

"There's no easy games from here on out." Konroyd said in the video. "Even teams on the outside, looking in are playing for contracts next year."

Watch the video above to see Boyle and Konroyd discuss the upcoming matchups for the Blackhawks.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Lightning in OT

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Lightning in OT

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

Bulls Talk Podcast: March is Nikola Mirotic's month

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Why Cubs fandom was inescapable in covering the greatest story in sports

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Increased velocity has improved Anthony Swarzak's chances of making White Sox bullpen

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa