Notes: Wood feels good despite results

Notes: Wood fine despite results

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood isn't looking too far ahead.

Wood, making his Cactus League debut for the Cubs, gave up four hits, including Torii Hunter's three-run homer, in one inning against the Los Angeles of Anaheim on Saturday.

"I think we'll start worrying about the end result later -- this was the first time out," Wood said. "For the first time, I thought my location was all right. I threw good fastballs and had some decent sliders. Obviously, the results aren't what you're looking for. I'm pleased with it."

Bob Howry, one of the other closer candidates, also pitched on Saturday and gave up one run on two hits over one inning. Carlos Marmol, also in the running for the closer's job, threw a scoreless inning on Friday.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella has said he'll make a decision by mid-March on who his closer will be. No rush, Wood said.

"It doesn't really matter," Wood said. "It's not going to change what I do when I go out there. If it gives him more time to look and see what he wants to do, I guess that's what he's doing. It doesn't matter to me either way."

Winning the closer's job isn't on the top of Wood's list of priorities.

"I'm excited to pitch in games that mean something, and meaningful innings," Wood said. "I think last year when I came back, they worked me in games when we were behind or games when we were ahead. I'm more excited about pitching in meaningful innings. Regardless of where it is, usually at the end of the game, it's meaningful innings."

Piniella wasn't too worried about Wood's outing Saturday.

"Woody just hung a breaking ball," Piniella said of Hunter's homer. "The slider is the last pitch to come. I'm not concerned about it. Howry is the same way. He usually struggles a little bit in spring."

Keeping cool: If you watch closely, Ryan Dempster will wiggle his glove quickly from one side to the other and back, then deliver a pitch.

"It keeps me cool," Dempster said. "I'm fanning myself."

OK, let's get serious.

"I can't give away my secrets," Dempster said.

Well, everyone can see it.

"I pre-load my split-finger fastball," Dempster said, explaining the gimmick. "I haven't thrown it from the windup since I've had it. So, if I have my split-finger, and I have to switch, I'm going to have to move my hands. If I don't move my hands, the batter will go, 'He didn't move his hands, so it's a split.' So, I do it every pitch, no matter what pitch I'm throwing. I think it helps me stay back a little, too."

Is it a timing thing?

"Not so much -- it just gets me comfortable with the grip I'm throwing," Dempster said.

Spring Training
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Lots of laughs: It seems as if there is somebody new in Mesa to interview Kosuke Fukudome every day, and on Saturday, it was Japanese comedian Red Yoshida. Yoshida, who played baseball in high school in Japan, showed up wearing a Cubs jersey and cap.

"Ah -- a new player," Piniella said.

Yoshida interviewed Piniella and asked about the billy goat curse, and ended his questions by imitating the noise of a goat. Sort of.

Fukudome did not play Saturday but is expected back in the lineup on Sunday. The plan for now is to have him play two days, then get a day off.

Cooperstown connect: Marmol had a chance to talk to Hall of Famer Juan Marichal during the playoffs and Caribbean Series.

"He talked to me and said I had a good chance to be a closer," Marmol said. "We talked about baseball a little bit. He told me to do a good job, stuff like that."

Marichal also advised Marmol to listen to other pitchers.

"When he talks to you, you feel great -- it's like, 'Wow,'" Marmol said. "He told me I'm doing all right and told me to keep doing what I'm doing. I appreciate that."

Naming rights: The prospect of selling Wrigley Field's naming rights doesn't sit well with many Cubs fans, including Carmen Pignatiello's grandfather.

"It's always going to be Wrigley Field to him, even if they do change the name," said Pignatiello, a pitcher on the Cubs. "I think a lot of people feel the same. It's not going to really change. To the outside world, it'll be a different name, but to everybody in Chicago, it'll be Wrigley Field."

Pignatiello hasn't talked to his grandfather about it.

"He's going to call it Wrigley Field and leave it at that," Pignatiello said. "He's a diehard Cub fan, and that's how he knows it as Wrigley Field, and that's how it will be."

Extra bases: Mark DeRosa is expected back in Arizona on Sunday, and hopefully will begin working out on Monday. DeRosa underwent a procedure in Chicago on Thursday to correct an irregular heartbeat. ... Jon Lieber threw early Saturday and is scheduled to start Monday for the Cubs. ... Jake Fox provided the Cubs' only offense Saturday, hitting a two-run homer in a 6-2 loss to the Angels. ... Ronny Cedeno was back in the lineup after missing one game because of tenderness in his forearm. ... On March 9, the Cubs will travel to Surprise to play the Kansas City Royals. Some schedules list that as a home game for the Cubs in Mesa.

On deck: The Cubs play host to the San Francisco Giants at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at HoHoKam Park in the two teams' third meeting in the last four games. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and Comcast Sports Net. Ted Lilly is slated to start for the Cubs.

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