Wood, 29, had two options regarding his shoulder, and he chose to take a conservative approach after consulting with orthopedic specialists such as Dr. David Altchek and Dr. Lewis Yocum as well as other pitchers such as Pedro Martinez who have had similar injuries. The tear was revealed in an MRI arthrogram on Wood's shoulder on July 7.
"I'm probably not going to be coming back as a starter," Wood said Wednesday. "I need to go out and pitch and I need to get some innings. I need to be healthy. Probably the best way to do that for me is to limit the innings, limit the pitches until I'm comfortable and positive I can make 34, 35 starts with 110 pitches every fifth day. Coming off another season of rehab, I don't know if I can do that right now."
Wood's first goal is to be pain free. He could be back in the rotation at some point.
"For me, [pitching in relief] is a starting point to be able to pitch against big-league hitters, get guys out, and build from there," he said. "Who's to say the following year or later in the year or two years from now or five years from now I might decide to come back and start again."
this page warned long ago and repeatedly that what both wood and wade miller were attempting to come back from was devastating and indeed complete recovery was always something of a longshot -- and in the following year, nearly impossible. wood and miller have sadly proven that assessment correct. it seems now more certain than ever that wood's crossed star has settled below the horizon and that he may well never pitch again for the cubs. owed a $3mm buyout, wood will be a free agent at year end. some team is certain to give wood a chance in relief -- there is even a chance that it would be the cubs, for whom the buyout is a sunk cost.
but this page hopes otherwise. wood would benefit psychologically from a fresh start somewhere else, and the cubs will have little need of veteran relievers in 2007, which is shaping up to be another losing season with the team simply having far too many holes to patch.
miller, having previously been shut down with stiffness in his repaired shoulder and a lack of velocity in rehab, is once again trying to come back. this page sincerely wishes him luck, but is of the firm opinion that miller should get nowhere near chicago this year. this team has enough work to do sorting out its young pitching without giving starts to a wounded veteran who may never be effective again -- simply, it is suspected, to emptily sate jim hendry's damaged ego. as this page said before the trade deadline:
should the cubs be successful in moving wood, [greg] maddux, and one or more of the four veteran relievers, yet more room would become available -- possibly opening the way for the trials of players like ryu, guzman and carlos marmol (all on the 40-man), as well as andy shipman, juan mateo and rocky cherry. in any case, disabled vets mark prior and wade miller should be generously extended in rehabilitation until after such deadline trades could be made. prior is as yet a controlled contract, and miller is a player no contender will want to hazard. neither having much if any immediate trade appeal, neither should stand in the way of youth that could be tried now -- miller, for all this writer cares, could never throw a pitch for the cubs.
with miller and wood nowhere near the team, sean marshall sidelined by a strained oblique and maddux having been moved off to los angeles, juan mateo -- last year's rule 5 draftee since returned -- will make his major league debut today at wrigley and join (for a day, anyway) marmol and rich hill in the rotation. this sort of development is exactly what this writer hopes to see the most of for the remainder of 2006 -- this page considers mateo one of the more able pitching prospects in the organization and is overjoyed to see him get an opportunity having pitched quite respecatably in west tennessee. it is in this fashion that this lost year can have any redeeming value whatsoever.
in other more dour news, however, angel guzman -- who is again suffering from forearm problems which have plagued him throughout his career -- was lifted after just one inning in des moines yesterday. no word is forthcoming on the reason but the pain in guzman's arm is chronic -- accounting for his remarkable lack of professional innings in injury-shortened seasons all his career -- and he has not been pitching well recently. one hopes for the best, but guzman seems to be demonstrating that the kansas city royals, who originally signed him in 1999 but released him when he flunked his physical, to have been right.
UPDATE: guzman was removed as a precaution following the rainout in chicago, in case he might be needed to pitch for the big club, and not as a consequence of injury.