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Wood hums through outing, set for more

Wood cruises, scheduled for more

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MESA, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood, pitching in his first game since March 11, needed nine pitches to get through one inning of relief Friday and is scheduled for three more outings to tune up for the start of the regular season for the Cubs.

Wood, who is converting from a starter to reliever this year, gave up one hit in one inning in the Cubs' 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in front of a sellout crowd of 12,752 at HoHoKam Park.

"I feel great," Wood said. "I've obviously missed the last eight, nine days and it felt good to be back out there. I got a few innings in before I came to Spring Training and thought my arm was in good shape, my shoulder's fine. I'll get three more [outings] and we'll go from there. Everything feels great, and that's all I'm worried about."

The plan is for Wood to throw Monday, Wednesday and next Friday in Las Vegas if he has no setbacks. All the Cubs want is for the right-hander, who spent the winter rehabbing from a partial tear in his right rotator cuff, to repeat what he did against the Giants. Of the nine pitches he threw, eight were strikes.

Wood began camp with a minor setback when he bruised his chest falling out of a hot tub. A strained right triceps muscle was the latest reason he had been held out of games.

"We might not have enough time with Kerry [to pitch him on consecutive days] but with the rest of these guys, that's what we'll do," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of the relievers.

Bob Howry was the first to pitch on back-to-back days. He threw 25 pitches in the Minor League camp Thursday, and one inning on Friday against the Giants. Scott Eyre pitched at the Minor League camp Friday and will likely get in Saturday's game. Wood simply doesn't have enough days to do so.

"Can I do it? Yes," Wood said about appearing in consecutive games. "What's the point of doing it now? We all sat down and talked about that before in the offseason."

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How Wood responds the day after he throws is key to the next phase in his spring program.

"Let's see how he feels," Piniella said. "He's got a week, that's obvious. I was very pleased with the way he threw the ball today. Let's see how he feels [Saturday] and the next day and see how he feels Monday."

Wood did pitch in relief in 2005, making 11 appearances. That's nothing compared to his 178 starts. He's got a lot to learn.

"[Ryan] Dempster has been great and helping me out," Wood said. "You're worried about throwing, worried about getting ready, worried about how many outs there are, worried about who's up."

Dempster, the Cubs closer, tells Wood the count, how many outs, and gives his teammate a heads up while he's warming up. The time off didn't seem to matter on Friday.

"I didn't feel any [rust]," Wood said. "It's better than other outings I've had. I felt great."

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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