Friday, March 16, 2007

wood hurt again; more roster thoughts

the cubs are reporting that kerry wood has sustained a triceps strain in his throwing arm.

"The hole in the mound, he was extending past it to avoid it and had a little strain in his triceps," general manager Jim Hendry said. "It was not where he was cut on [for labrum or elbow surgery]. We'll give it a couple of days and I'm not anticipating any long-term difficulties."

"hole in the mound" -- right.

the cubs are minimizing this thing, but frankly -- for a pitcher with wood's litany of injury, which is becoming truly epic in length -- there is simply no such thing as a minor injury anymore. apparently trivial incidents have led too regularly to major complications in wood's career, and even where they haven't the frequency of minor diversions seems all too certain to force the cubs to put in a permanent reservation on the bus that shuttles between chicago and des moines.

in any case, more thoughts on the roster have found voice at another cubs blog, speculating on the probability of a 12-man pitching staff as well as wood's latest pratfall. particularly in light of this most recent development, which brings wood's vulnerability to the fore once again and reminds all parties of his persistent fragility, this writer is forced to agree -- no matter how lou piniella is predisposed to the 11-man pitching staff in theory, exigencies of reality force a prudent hand to allocate an extra spot to the bullpen.

the updated roster chart, then:

1Carlos ZambranoRyan DempsterScott Eyre*Michael BarrettDerrek LeeMatt Murton
2Ted Lilly*Bob HowryWill Ohman*Henry BlancoMark DerosaAlfonso Soriano
3Jason MarquisKerry WoodNeal Cotts*Cesar Izturis**Jacque Jones*
4Rich Hill*Rocky CherryAramis RamirezCliff Floyd*
5Wade MillerRoberto NovoaRyan TheriotDaryle Ward*
6Angel GuzmanMichael WuertzRonny CedenoAngel Pagan**
7Mark PriorBuck Coats*

the inclination is to treat wood's injury as the "minor setback" they claim it is for the time being, and to presume he stays off the disabled list to begin the year. wood has already demonstrated the capacity to pitch his single inning at velocity, and carrying a twelfth pitcher would give piniella the luxury of working him into final form in the majors despite some short layoff this week. that may not happen -- particularly if wood's injury doesn't respond as well as they cubs are claiming it will -- and if wood isn't ready to go for april, one suspects that angel guzman would be the beneficiary.

michael wuertz threw in a minor league game for the first time this spring, and is scheduled to make a cactus league appearance this weekend. it's already march 16, and it is not at all certain that wuertz -- who is easily the superior of either rocky cherry or roberto novoa -- will be available in time. there's no trouble about that, however, as wuertz can as easily start in iowa or extended spring and be brought up to the club sometime in the first three weeks of the year.

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