PHOENIX – The Cubs have been in stealth mode since setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July, making a blockbuster deal with the Oakland A’s that forced everyone in baseball to pay attention.
Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are gone, leaving the rest of the clubhouse wondering who will be next.
“Nothing surprises me,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You’re trying to kind of prepare for everything, but it’s not something that I’m thinking about all the time. … I don’t try to speculate.”
Renteria would be in the minority – trade rumors and prospect updates are pretty much the only things Cubs fans want to read about now. But while Theo Epstein’s front office looks at the next deals leading up to the July 31 deadline, Travis Wood has taken a step back.
Wood struggled again in Saturday’s 9-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks inside Chase Field, leaving him at 7-9 with a 5.12 ERA, one year after going to the All-Star Game. That’s not the building block the Cubs (40-56) envisioned for life after Samardzija and Hammel.
“That’s a big gap to fill in the rotation,” Wood said. “For sure, I really want to go out there and give you seven, eight innings, as strong as I can, every time, to try to fill that void. But so far, it hasn’t been happening.
“But I promise you we’ll get there.”
Wood had been so consistent last season, making 24 quality starts and throwing 200 innings. But he couldn’t finish the sixth inning against the Diamondbacks (42-56), giving up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits and four walks.
So it’s back to the drawing board for a 27-year-old lefty who will have something to prove in the second half.
“It’s been a struggle, but that’s baseball,” Wood said. “You got to overcome stuff and figure out how to work around things. … We’re going to get there, I promise you that. It will just be a struggle until then.”