Notes: No pain for Cubs' Big Two

Notes: No pain for Cubs' Big Two

MESA, Ariz. -- Both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood reported no unusual soreness on Tuesday, the day after their Cactus League debuts, which was great news, said Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

"Today, the trainer came into my office and said everybody's fine," Piniella said. "That's the best news of all."

Prior, who threw 40 pitches over 1 1/3 innings on Monday against the Mariners, is slated to pitch on Saturday against the Royals. Left-hander Ted Lilly will start that game, and Prior will follow.

Wood, who threw 12 pitches in one inning of relief on Monday, was on the list to throw on Thursday when the Cubs travel to Peoria, Ariz., to face the Padres. Both Wood and Prior are coming back from right shoulder injuries that limited them to a combined 13 starts in 2006.

Prior is battling for the one vacancy in the Cubs rotation along with Wade Miller and lefty Neal Cotts.

"We're going to put together the best five that we can," Piniella said. "That's what this competition is all about. I don't know who the fifth starter is going to be. We'll see how this thing works out."

Prior didn't throw any breaking pitches on Monday, and his pitches were clocked in the low 80s on the radar gun. Piniella was asked if the right-hander could get his velocity up by Opening Day.

"I don't think 90 [mph] is the magic number," Piniella said. "Getting hitters out is important, whatever that speed is, and being able to throw all his pitches for strikes. I don't see 90 or any other velocity as a prerequisite."

Step by step: Jason Marquis threw three scoreless innings in his second Cactus League outing on Tuesday, striking out two and keeping the ball down. That's key for the right-hander.

"He kept it down -- that's really what we want to see," Piniella said. "The only thing I talked to him a little bit about was that he got two quick strikes on the hitter, then tried to really make a perfect pitch. The pitch you make to get strike 1 is good enough to get the hitter out on four, five pitches, as opposed to having to throw six or seven."

Marquis was pleased, and his extra work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild is paying off.

"I went into the offseason before I shut down throwing with a positive mind-set on what I needed to do," Marquis said. "I did a lot of drills prior to every workout to make those mechanics natural so I didn't have to think about it. Obviously, when I have my [side sessions] or play catch, other than when I'm on the mound, I'm focusing on doing the right things so, come game time, I can focus on making my pitches."

Marquis signed a three-year deal with the Cubs after playing three seasons in St. Louis. Is his mission to prove to the Cardinals that they made a mistake by not keeping him?

"It's, 'I'm going to show the Cubs why they made the right move,'" he said of his motivation. "It's more of a challenge to myself, knowing last year was an aberration. There were bright spots, but there were also low spots. I could've been a lot more consistent, and that's what I'm striving for, is consistency."

Welcome to the show: Micah Hoffpauir was preparing for Minor League camp when he got the invite to big-league camp on Feb. 18. The Cubs' 13th-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Hoffpauir was surprised by the call. He came through on Tuesday with a walk-off homer with one out in the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

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"Isn't that nice? We brought him in because we had a few players nicked up," Piniella said of Hoffpauir. "That's one of the fun things about Spring Training."

When camp opened, the Cubs had 57 players on the roster. Hoffpauir is No. 58.

"That's been my goal since I was invited," he said about making an impression. "That was my goal to come in, and I have no aspirations of really making the team here right now, but I wanted to put a lasting impression on Lou's mind and the rest of the guys in the clubhouse that, 'Hey, this kid can play a little bit.' That's been my goal so far."

He won't forget the homer, his first in his third spring at-bat.

"It's my first home run in big-league Spring Training since I've been in the organization," said the 27-year-old first baseman. "It's one I won't forget very soon. It was a lot of fun."

Extra bases: Angel Guzman gave up one hit over two innings on Tuesday and was throwing 93-95 mph easily. "He looks like he wants a spot on the club," Piniella said of the right-hander. "He's throwing the ball very well. You look at his natural stuff, and it's as good as people in camp. Now, he's pitched well in two-inning stints. We're talking about a young starter here. We'll see more as we stretch him out and get him into the three-, four-, five-[inning] category. You've got to be pleased with his stuff, there's no question about that." ... Alfonso Soriano dropped a fly ball in center field for his first error this spring. He lost the ball in the sun. ... Before the game, the Cubs held their annual meeting with the Major League Baseball Players Association. ... Ryan Theriot was feeling better after being sidelined one day with the stomach flu. Expect to see Theriot play shortstop, third base and maybe even some outfield this spring. "He's basically going to be our primary extra infielder," Piniella said. Theriot hit a double on Monday. ... Looking ahead to Thursday's game, former Cubs right-hander Greg Maddux will start for San Diego against Chicago's Wade Miller. Cotts is slated to start one of the split-squad games on Friday. Cotts will pitch against Texas at Surprise, while Rich Hill will start for the Cubs in Mesa on Friday against the Padres. Bench coach Alan Trammell, formerly the manager of the Detroit Tigers, will manage the team in Surprise. "It's good for Alan," Piniella said. "It gets him back in the swing." ... Michael Wuertz (shoulder) is not scheduled in any of the next four Cactus League games, but Roberto Novoa is on the list to pitch on Wednesday. Novoa has been slowed because of tightness in his shoulder. ... Condolences to the family of former Cubs player Gene Oliver, who passed away last weekend.

On deck: The Cubs will play host to Oakland at 2:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at HoHoKam Park. Carlos Zambrano, the club's Opening Day starter, is slated to start against lefty Joe Kennedy. Jeff Samardzija is on the list of probable pitchers as well.

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