Notes: Guzman needs finishing touch

Notes: Guzman needs finishing touch

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Angel Guzman has the right stuff to be a big-league pitcher. What may be holding the Cubs right-hander back is that hitters seem to recognize his pitches too well.

Guzman, one of the candidates for the fifth starter spot, made his first spring start Friday, and gave up five runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox.

"My body, my arm, everything feels good," Guzman said. "I was throwing a lot of strikes, but when I got to two strikes, I didn't get guys out. Those guys were the ones who scored."

"They don't swing and miss at him much," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He gets two strikes and doesn't put the hitters away, and he's got pretty good stuff up there."

Piniella even went behind home plate to talk to the Cubs scouts to see if they could pick up something in Guzman's delivery. Since Friday's game was televised, Piniella and the coaching staff will look at the film to see if there is something that gives hitters an edge.

"This kid here, he's got good stuff, there's no question," Piniella said. "He pounded the strike zone today, which is really good to see. But when you need to put away a hitter, he doesn't do it. We'll see. I was impressed with the kid."

The young right-hander, who was 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 15 games last season, is trying not to get too caught up in the competition for the last spot in the Cubs rotation.

"It's the same baseball, same field, same teams," Guzman said. "You just have to go out there and compete. I'm just thinking about today. I'm not thinking about tomorrow."

As to whether he's done enough to earn a spot, Guzman said he didn't know.

"The guys who know that are Lou Piniella and [pitching coach] Larry Rothschild," he said.

Piniella has told Guzman how much he likes his stuff.

"That makes me feel good, but still you have to go out there and compete and get the job done," Guzman said. "No matter how good you show you are in practice and the bullpen, it's all about the game and getting the job done in the game."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen came over to talk to Guzman as he left the field.

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"He just told me I threw the ball well, and there are some little things I have to take care of," Guzman said. "He said, 'Work hard and take the job. They put it in your hands. Just take it.'"

Mark Prior threw four innings in a Minor League intrasquad game on Friday, and Wade Miller has felt strong after his three starts. Is Piniella ready to name his fifth starter?

"Don't put me on the spot yet," he said. "Put me on the spot a week from now."

Good wood: Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood received treatment Friday at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, and the team expected to have a better idea as to how long he'll be sidelined by Saturday.

Wood has a mild strain of his right triceps, which he suffered Sunday. Rothschild wasn't sure if this latest injury would keep Wood from being ready for the Cubs bullpen by Opening Day.

"If it's a few days, it's not a problem," Rothschild said. "If it's a week or 10 days, it'll become an issue to get him ready. We'll see where he is in the next few days."

See the ball: Piniella was not pleased with the Cubs defensive play on Friday.

"We can talk about having a good ballclub in Chicago, but we have to catch the [darn] thing better than we did today," he said. "You have to help the pitchers out. Too many routine balls, that you say, 'Yeah,' when they hit them, and we don't make the plays. I'm going to put the best club I can defensively on the field, because that's the way you win baseball games."

Piniella wasn't frustrated.

"It has nothing to do with frustration, it has to do with reality," he said. "The reality is if you don't catch the [darn] thing, you don't win. You've got to make plays to help your pitching out."

Hit the ball: Piniella took Ronny Cedeno aside on Tuesday when the Cubs were in Tucson and encouraged the infielder to focus on hitting the ball to right field.

"I don't know how many games we have left, but I have to concentrate in the last two weeks and we'll see, because I want to make the team," Cedeno said.

"I appreciate what he said," Cedeno said. "He told me, 'You're a very good player, I like the way you play. Just concentrate and hit to middle to right field.' I think that's good for me because I can find my inside-out swing, and that's good because then I'm not trying to pull everything. A .300 hitter can hit to the middle and right field. He thinks I can hit."

Good cause: Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the March 23 game at HoHoKam Park for the 10th annual food drive to benefit Paz de Cristo. The food drive, organized by the Cubs wives, will take place outside Gate D starting at 10:30 a.m. MT. The first 300 fans making a donation of 10 non-perishable food items or $20 will be allowed to randomly select a Cubs autographed baseball in a grab bag giveaway.

Extra bases: Roberto Novoa made his second Cactus League appearance and Michael Wuertz made his first Friday, both pitching one inning in relief. ... Rocky Cherry pitched a scoreless inning in relief Friday, and so far has given up one earned run on five hits over seven innings in seven games. ... Catcher Koyie Hill played a couple of innings at second base, which is not totally unfamiliar to him. He played second for Team USA in 1999. Hill dropped 30 pounds this offseason. ... The sellout crowd of 11,746 at Tucson Electric Park was treated to a mini air show by the Blue Angels.

On deck: Former Cub Greg Maddux will start Saturday for San Diego against Rich Hill at HoHoKam Park. Hill, slated to start the April 6 game against Milwaukee, will be making his third Cactus League start. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and WGN TV.

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