Wood may not make next start

Wood may not make next start

MIAMI -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, still feeling some crankiness in his right shoulder, may not make his next scheduled start on Sunday to give him more time to recover.

Wood went five innings Tuesday night against Florida in his second start of the season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in late August. He was expected to start Sunday against the Atlanta Braves, but Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday that could change.

"Right now, [Sunday's starter] is to be determined," Baker said. "We're going to see how he feels after two outings. He was a little stiff [Tuesday]. We'll see if he's going to feel good enough to do it on Sunday or if he needs to skip a turn."

The Cubs could insert left-hander Glendon Rusch or Minor League right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu in Wood's spot on Sunday. The team currently has a four-man rotation and does not need a fifth starter until May 30. Wood could be pushed back to that date.

Ryu gave up three runs on three hits over eight innings in Triple-A Iowa's 7-3 win over Sacramento on Tuesday. He struck out five and is 2-3 with a 3.16 ERA for the Minor League team.

"They said he was outstanding last night," Baker said of the Korean right-hander.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said the need for more time between starts is not surprising since Wood is coming off surgery, adding that the team will "play it by ear."

How did Rothschild assess Wood's performance on Tuesday against Florida?

"It's not the Kerry Wood you've seen through the years," Rothschild said. "There will be times he'll get back to that more consistently. I think he pitched a little more last night. The slider was a little bit better, he threw some pretty good curveballs and pumped up the velocity a little bit in certain situations. Delivery-wise, he was pretty good and wasn't falling all over and finished a lot of pitches. We'll keep working on what we need to get done."

Rothschild would like to have Wood do at least one side session. He skipped all side work between his first start May 18 and Tuesday's game because of soreness in the shoulder.

"You'd like to be able to work on stuff, and also it's better for your arm overall if you can throw in between [starts] and get decent workouts in between," Rothschild said. "We'll take it as we can."

Wood needed 60 warmup pitches on Tuesday, which is higher than normal. What about his velocity?

"The first start in [Class A] Peoria, the velocity was way up," Rothschild said. "He's gone through a period where it's been tougher to get it going. That's perfectly normal."

Meanwhile, Mark Prior threw 64 pitches over four innings in a Cubs Rookie League spring game in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday. He's recovering from a strained muscle in his right shoulder.

"It was a step up, and we'll see how he reacts tomorrow," Rothschild said.

The Cubs won't be whole until Wood and Prior are back in the rotation.

"It's not a savior thing, but it's hard to find two guys of that quality on any team," Baker said. "You feel a lot more comfortable running those guys out there. These are guys we counted on. It's not the savior, but it's pretty close."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.