Cubs pitchers Wood, Prior battle injuries

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood and Mark Prior both are trying to stay off the disabled list as opening day approaches for the Chicago Cubs.

Wood, coming back from a torn right rotator cuff, threw 25 pitches off a mound Tuesday at the Cubs' spring-training complex in Mesa. On March 11, he strained his right triceps while pitching against Milwaukee, and it's unclear whether he will be ready for the start of the season.

"Until we get him back out there and get him on a schedule, you just don't know," Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "It has to work for the team, and it has to be in his best interests."

Wood, 29, was just 1-2 with a 4.12 ERA last year and has a 12.00 ERA in three spring training appearances. If he's on the active roster, it most likely would be as a one-inning reliever.

Prior, 26, was 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA last year when his season was cut short by a strained right shoulder. He is 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA in two spring training appearances, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 3 innings with five strikeouts and no walks.

Prior is scheduled to start Thursday against Seattle in Peoria, and manager Lou Piniella hopes he can pitch three or four innings. If Wood feels good today, he could pitch Thursday or Friday.

Wood, who pitched March 5, 8 and 11, has struck out four and walked one in three innings. While Prior's velocity has been in the mid-80s, Wood has been clocked at 95 to 96 mph.

"The deeper you get into spring, the less likely it becomes," Rothschild said of Wood's opening-day availability. "We'll get him back out there and see where he is and make those decisions when it's appropriate."

Griffey moving to right

If Ken Griffey Jr. is ready to play on opening day, he'll find himself in right field instead of center.

Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron said Monday he expects to start Ryan Freel in center April 2 against the Chicago Cubs because Griffey, 37, still is working his way back from a broken left hand. The longtime center fielder was injured in the offseason while wrestling with his kids.

"We had to make a decision. This late in the spring we need to get our club out on the field," Narron said.

Griffey, a 10-time Gold Glove winner in center, has taken fly balls and made throws from right field in practice.

Kuhn eulogized

Bowie Kuhn was remembered Tuesday as a passionate advocate for baseball and was dedicated to charitable work. Kuhn, who died Thursday at age 80, was baseball's commissioner from 1969 to 1984.

"I think it is a crying shame that Bowie is not in the Hall of Fame. But he's in the big Hall of Fame," said former Detroit Tigers owner Tom Monaghan, who gave one of the eulogies.

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