Howry OK with Wood as closer

Howry OK with Wood as closer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bob Howry was in the mix for the Cubs' closer job, which went to Kerry Wood. Howry is OK with that.

"Coming in, I said either way, it doesn't matter if I pitch in the eighth or ninth, I'll be pitching at the end of the ballgame in meaningful games," Howry said Tuesday. "It was just a matter of which inning."

Wood was named the closer on Monday. One of the reasons the Cubs wanted Howry and Carlos Marmol to stay as setup pitchers was because of their durability. Howry appreciates that.

"I think you see a lot of times with the closer, the only time he throws is in save situations," Howry said. "It's probably a smart thing. Keeping [Wood] healthy will be a big part to our bullpen. Trying to run him out there 80 times a year may not be the smartest thing to do. It doesn't hurt that he's throwing the ball extremely well.

"I enjoy going out there, throwing 80 times a year," Howry said. "I'd hate to be limited or have a reduced role, if that's what you call it."

Wood's teammates were happy the right-hander got the assignment.

"I think it's awesome," Cubs pitcher Jon Lieber said. "Probably the best thing is, if something unfortunate happens to Woody, you have two other guys who can step in, which is a luxury a lot of teams don't have."

Wood has been shifted to the 'pen because relief work seems to agree with his shoulder, which has limited him to 15 starts in the last three years.

"This is how you would've written the script up in the winter," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "His stuff the last couple days has been about as good as it gets. For his sake and ours, I hope he stays healthy. That's world class stuff he's been throwing."

Ryan Dempster, who was the Cubs closer the last three years, but now is in the rotation, was asked if he had any tips for Wood.

"He doesn't need any advice," Dempster said. "He'll take to that role. Lord knows, they'll love him in Chicago."

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