Notes: Wood coming along

Cubs notes: Wood coming along

SAN DIEGO -- Kerry Wood is getting closer to throwing a simulated game, although Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild joked they may want to change the name.

Wood, who threw two 20-pitch "innings" in the bullpen on Wednesday, will throw again Saturday as he continues to strengthen his right shoulder. Rothschild said that Saturday will be the first time Wood will throw a lot of breaking balls and use all his pitches.

The Cubs have been teased about leading the league in sim games because of the injuries to pitchers like Wood and Mark Prior.

"We have to come up with a new name for them," Rothschild said Thursday.

The time off -- Wood last pitched April 30 -- has given the right-hander time to think about his mechanics.

"We're trying to keep it so when he's throwing right we re-enforce that -- and that's any time he picks up a baseball," Rothschild said. "He looked at some film and saw some things. It's not retooling anything, it's just getting some of the basic things that he was doing until the injury came up."

It's not a matter of re-aligning anything, either, according to Rothschild.

"We just want all the parts working together," he said.

The good news is that Wood has been progressing pain-free.

"There's been no setbacks," Rothschild said. "The good signs are the health. That's what we're after. It's important that we take him through the strides the right way because we need to keep him healthy."

First time: John Koronka's dad Michael was able to stay up and watch all of his son's Major League debut on Wednesday. Michael was in Florida, still recuperating from heart bypass surgery, while John's game was in California against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Time zones don't matter when your son is in the big leagues.

Koronka is on schedule to make his second start Monday against Toronto, Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. Koronka was nervous.

"I threw the first pitch up, and I'm like, 'OK, just throw a strike, and if I can throw a strike I'll be good to go,'" said the lefty, who did throw a strike on his second pitch. "I think my nerves calmed down a lot after I struck out the second batter of the game."

The sellout crowd of 54,093 at Dodger Stadium didn't bother him.

"It got me fired up," Koronka said.

He spent Wednesday night responding to the 30-plus messages he received from friends and family who called to congratulate him.

"It was neat to talk to everybody last night," he said.

Lost in space: While Derrek Lee is red-hot, Corey Patterson is batting .244 with runners in scoring position and leads the Cubs in strikeouts.

"His attention comes and goes, and it's time for him to figure it out himself," Cubs hitting coach Gene Clines said of Patterson. "You can only do so much.

"You see good spurts. You think he's on his way, and then you see a backslide, and, 'What do I do next?' Everything has been said, it's been shown to you, and now it's time for you to do it."

The Cubs had hoped Patterson would fit in the leadoff spot, but he seems more comfortable batting sixth or seventh.

Patterson isn't alone. Jeromy Burnitz batted .226 in May, but Baker said that he doesn't know the right fielder well enough to figure out how to help him.

"You've got to see him hot," Baker said. "I've seen him kind of cold. You see him hot and then you can determine when you can make changes. It's a matter of rhythm, like most guys. Most of the time, it's something minor that gets everything in sync."

Extra bases: Aramis Ramirez was back in the starting lineup Thursday after missing one game with a sprained right ankle. ... Joe Borowski has appeared in four games since coming off the disabled list May 20. "He's not quite Joe yet," Baker said, "but he's coming. Joe's probably harder on Joe than anybody. I'm putting him in situations to build him up rather than just put him in there." ... Nomar Garciaparra was expected to join the team Friday in San Diego. He's been out since undergoing surgery in late April to repair a groin injury.

South of the border: Koronka started Wednesday, and Glendon Rusch starts Thursday. They are the first left-handed pitchers to start consecutive games for the Cubs since April 29-30, 2000, when Scott Downs and Andrew Lorraine did so. Downs and Lorraine followed each other four times that season, all in April.

However, the last time left-handed starters won back-to-back games for the Cubs was June 21-22, 1987, when Steve Trout and Jamie Moyer did so. Trout and Moyer also won consecutive starts on June 16-17 that year. Before Trout and Moyer, you have to go back to July 7-8, 1971, when Juan Pizarro and Ken Holtzman won back-to-back starts.

Hit parade: On Wednesday, the Cubs collected at least 10 hits in their sixth consecutive game. Since 1960, the most consecutive games, the Cubs have collected 10 hits or more is seven, accomplished three times:

July 7-12, 1979: 6-1 record, 53 runs, 97 hits

Sept. 18-23, 1992: 3-4 record, 49 runs, 84 hits

Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 1997: 4-3 record, 49 runs, 92 hits

Minor matters: Rich Hill struck out 14 for Triple-A Iowa, starting in place of Koronka on Wednesday. Hill, however, took the loss in Iowa's 6-1 decision against Oklahoma. He gave up four runs on four hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings. He leads the Minor Leagues with 104 strikeouts. ... Ricky Nolasco gave up five runs on 10 hits over four innings in Double-A West Tenn's 12-8 win over Tennessee. Felix Pie was 5-for-6, scored three runs and had two RBIs. Pie also hit his 11th home run of the season. Matt Murton was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. ... Sean Gallagher gave up one run on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in Class A Peoria's 3-1 win over Southwest Michigan. Aaron Sisk was 2-for-3 and scored a run.

On deck: Sergio Mitre will make his third start Friday night for the Cubs against the Padres. The toughest thing for Mitre is getting enough tickets for family and friends in San Diego. He pitched at San Diego City College.

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