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Wood looking for answers to arm woes

Wood looking for answers to arm woes

HOUSTON -- Kerry Wood is frustrated.

The Cubs pitcher, sidelined because of a cranky right shoulder, is limited to playing catch. He might throw off the mound this weekend but most likely will not.

"I don't feel like I'll be jumping on a mound any time soon," Wood said on Wednesday. "We just have to try to get to the bottom of what's going on. We haven't done that yet. I'm frustrated, everybody's frustrated."

Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal has been trying daily to figure out a way to get Wood's right shoulder stronger, so he can pitch. The right-hander had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in late August and made four starts from May 18 to June 6. That's it.

"People are frustrated -- I'm more frustrated than anybody -- but we have to keep going and hope this thing, like a lot of shoulder surgeries, kind of rights itself after you get some time under your belt," Wood said. "I try to listen to it and take it easy on days when it's not feeling so hot and working more on days when it's feeling good and go from there."

On June 26, Wood underwent an MRI in Cincinnati and was examined by Dr. Tim Kremchek, who performed the procedure on his shoulder. That helped, sort of.

"What would make me feel better was if I could go out and pitch," Wood said. "It's nice to get the MRI and know nothing is structurally wrong. But I'd like to know why it's hurting and what I can do to fix it. We're still looking for that answer."

If he can't go long, what about pitching in relief? Wood, 29, did that last season when his shoulder was limiting him and pitched in 11 games. He was effective, posting a 2.25 ERA. He was 3-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 10 starts in 2005.

"That'd be great if I could get to the point where I could do that," Wood said about pitching in relief. "At this point, it's trying to pitch. I've got to get out there and get some innings and try to help the team. I haven't been able to do that."

"You mix in a couple good days in a row and think you're turning the corner and see some light at the end of the tunnel, and the next day it's back to square one. Sometimes that light is a train."
-- Kerry Wood

At least he has someone to share his frustration with. Wade Miller is rehabbing from a similar arthroscopic procedure that he had on his right shoulder in late September. The two talk a lot about their aches and pains.

"You mix in a couple good days in a row and think you're turning the corner and see some light at the end of the tunnel, and the next day it's back to square one," Wood said. "Sometimes that light is a train."

The 1998 Rookie of the Year who dazzled with a 20-strikeout game in his fifth big league start, Wood is in the last year of his contract with the Cubs. There is an option for 2007.

"[Next year] is going to take care of itself," Wood said. "I just have to get healthy. I have to be able to go out and pitch and feel normal. I haven't been able to do that yet."

The right-hander does have a good relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry but recognizes that baseball is a business.

"I'd love to stay here," Wood said.

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

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