CHICAGO -- It'll be a happy new year for Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood. He gets to start throwing.
Wood got a checkup last week in Phoenix by Dr. Timothy Kremchek, who performed the arthroscopic surgery on the pitcher's right shoulder on Aug. 31. Kremchek told Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal that he was pleased with Wood's progress and expected the right-hander to begin throwing sometime after Jan. 1, 2006.
Right now, Wood's rehab focuses on an aggressive strengthening program, O'Neal said Monday.
Wood was not expected to be ready to return to the rotation by Opening Day and won't have to rush. The Cubs have five starters in right-handers Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Greg Maddux, and Jerome Williams, and left-hander Glendon Rusch.
Wood, 28, was 3-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 10 starts before his sore shoulder forced him to switch to the bullpen. In 11 games in relief, he was 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings.
O'Neal said Aramis Ramirez, who was shut down in late August with a sore left quad, was doing well in his rehab and has been running this winter. O'Neal visited Ramirez in the Dominican Republic to check up on the third baseman's progress and said someone else from the medical staff will go again in mid-January to get an update.
"We're very comfortable with where he's at," O'Neal said of Ramirez, who hit .302 in 123 games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.