Notes: Wood ready to rock and fire

Notes: Wood ready to rock and fire

CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood is ready to go.

"I feel great. My body feels good, my shoulder feels great, I've been throwing the ball the way I want to the last couple times," said Wood, who will make his comeback start Wednesday for the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee.

Wood's last start was April 30 against Houston, and he's been sidelined with a strained right shoulder since. Don't ask him about whether he's altered his delivery during the time off.

"I'm not going to talk about my delivery, my mechanics," he said Sunday. "I went down there and did what I have to do to get ready. I'm back and I'm ready to pitch."

His arm strength is good, his endurance is there. He's tuned up with three Minor League rehab games. It wasn't hard to get motivated.

"Watching our games in a Triple-A clubhouse in Nashville and it makes you want to get back and makes you want to work harder," Wood said. "I did what I have to do and got some good work accomplished and I feel good."

Roster move: The Cubs sent Rich Hill to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday to make room on the roster for Mark Prior, who was activated from the disabled list.

Hill, who started this season at Double-A West Tenn, appeared in four games, all in relief, and had given up three earned runs on three hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.

"He showed a lot of improvement each time he went out there and potentially what he could do and can do," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the young lefty. "We sent him down to go start. It was a tough decision on who to send down because the kid has done a good job. We have a bunch of left-handers in the pen and we thought that was the best move for us right now."

Hill will go back into the rotation at Iowa, and get into a regular groove of throwing every day.

"It was good," he said of his brief time in the big leagues. "I always had that attitude that I could and I knew that I could and to come up here and do it, it was a good boost of confidence.

"I'll just keep pitching and keep the repetition up and keep getting the work in," Hill said.

He'll be back.

"To know I could pitch up here at this stage was good to know," Hill said.

Extra man: Michael Barrett, who was batting .258 this month, was the Cubs' designated hitter on Sunday while Henry Blanco was behind the plate.

"I'd rather be catching," Barrett said. "I'm happy to get the opportunity to get some at-bats. My at-bats have been kind of poor lately and mediocre. I think it'll be good to clear my head and focus on hitting. Let's face it, I've had some rough games catching."

Blanco played for the Minnesota Twins last year, and knows the White Sox. He's also got a strong arm and may be better against the speedy Sox.

"It's more of a matter of wanting Blanco to catch because of his percentage of throwing runners out against a team that runs a lot," Baker said. "He's caught quite a few games against these guys. And I didn't want Michael out of the lineup three days in a row. It would've been [Friday], today and tomorrow with the off-day."

If something happens to Blanco, Barrett could catch and the Cubs would lose the DH in the lineup. They'd be back to National League style.

"I've had that happen before and it's not a big deal," Barrett said. "You can double-switch and get your way out of it."

Web gem: Todd Hollandsworth may have gone 0-for-4 on Saturday, but he made a game-saving catch when he snared Joe Crede's fly ball at the wall in left in the second inning. The White Sox had hit back-to-back homers, and another runner was on base after an error. If Crede's ball went out, the game would've been tied.

   Todd Hollandsworth  /   LF
Born: 04/20/73
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

"It's one of those balls, you get back to the wall and give yourself a chance," Hollandsworth said Sunday. "I got back to the foot of the wall and gave myself a chance. From there it wasn't hard."

It gave Hollandsworth something to smile about.

"That's what I pride myself on," he said. "I've been around 11 years. The bottom line is I come to the yard every day and give everything I've got to the team and to these fans and to this organization. That's me.

"If you're not swinging that day, you want to get the opportunity try to make that big play on defense," he said.

What made Hollandsworth even happier when he saw a photo of him making the leap was that he jumped off his right leg, which he had injured last year.

Leading off: The Cubs hope Corey Patterson develops as one of the premier leadoff hitters in baseball. That doesn't mean he'll be a clone of Scott Podsednik. Baker compares Patterson more to Lou Brock.

"Everybody's not Juan Pierre or Scott Podsednik," Baker said.

"Everybody's talking about Scott Podsednik, who's an outstanding player, but how long did it take Scott Podsednik to get to this point of being Scott Podsednik? If he'd been Scott Podsednik from the get-go, I'm sure Texas wouldn't let him go, I'm sure Seattle would still have him.

"Sometimes it's a learning curve," Baker said. "I'm a firm believer that generally about your fourth year is your toughest year as a hitter. Your first year or two, it's natural ability. One team thinks you're a high-ball hitter, one team thinks you're a low-ball hitter. By that fourth year, everybody knows what you can and cannot hit. Everybody now is pitching him the same way.

"It's up to you to make that adjustment," he said.

That's what the Cubs are waiting for. Baker has started Patterson everywhere in the lineup, and figures his critics need to be patient.

"Let's hope he can start doing it and producing," Baker said.

Happy birthday: Aramis Ramirez is the first Cub to hit a grand slam on his birthday, doing so Saturday on his 27th birthday. Ramirez's blast was the first slam by a Cub this year, and the 268th all-time. The first Cubs slam was hit by Larry Corcoran on June 20, 1882, against Worcester's Lee Richmond at Chicago's Lakefront Park.

Sing along: Tuesday night at Wrigley Field is Country night, and Joe Nichols will be singing during the seventh-inning stretch. On Wednesday, actor Paul Reiser will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", and Bob Uecker will warble on Thursday.

Friday will be a special day when Bill Holden arrives at Wrigley after his long walk from Arizona to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Holden will sing the seventh-inning stretch along with Ron Santo, whose life story inspired Holden.

On July 2, Dick Biondi, accompanied by Ronnie Rice of the "New Colony Six," Carl Giammarese of the "Buckinghams," and Jim Peterik of the "Ides of March" sing. On July 3, Mia Hamm will sing -- accompanied by five young girls -- in honor of "Mia Hamm Day" at Wrigley Field.

Minor matters: Raul Valdez gave up four runs on four hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings while striking out six in Iowa's 9-5 win over Omaha. Ronny Cedeno was 3-for-5 with a home run, Mike Fontenot was 3-for-5, and Scott McClain 2-for-5 with a three-run homer and four RBIs. ... Renyel Pinto gave up two runs on five hits and one walk over 6 2/3 innings while striking out 11 in West Tenn's 5-2 win over Mobile. Brandon Sing homered and scored two runs. Richard Lewis was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI. ... Class A Daytona rallied from a 6-0 deficit but came up short in an 8-7 loss to St. Lucie. Juan Mateo took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits over four innings. He struck out seven. Chris Walker was 4-for-5. ... Class A Boise lost to Everett 6-2 Saturday. Chris Gaskin hit a two-run homer for the Hawks.

On deck: The Cubs have Monday off, and return to National League play under the lights at Wrigley Field Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. Carlos Zambrano will open the series in a rematch against lefty Doug Davis. Zambrano is coming off the shortest outing of his career, 1 2/3 innings.

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