Wood will be sidelined for opener

Wood will be sidelined for opening of season

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood will not be ready by Opening Day and was to be examined Monday after feeling discomfort in his right shoulder, while Mark Prior's fate will likely be determined Wednesday.

"For the most part, he'd been doing what everybody else did," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Monday of Wood. "He had a couple setbacks, but truthfully, one wasn't throwing-related. We felt that by bringing him along slowly and not pushing him, that it was a reasonable expectation that he'd be ready by Opening Day."

And now?

"That's not going to happen," Piniella said. "Let's hope it's not serious and he can resume preparing himself. Obviously, we'll give him time."

On Sunday, Wood threw 18 pitches in one inning against the Angels, and served up three runs on three hits, including Kendry Morales' two-run homer. He didn't look as sharp as his outing last Friday, when he needed just nine pitches to retire four batters. Piniella said he knew after Sunday's game that Wood wasn't feeling right. It wasn't just one pitch that caused the discomfort.

"He obviously didn't have the same strength [Sunday] and didn't throw the ball as well, and had some discomfort after the game," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Monday. "Today, he had some more stiffness than normal than he's had earlier in camp, which was going smoothly for him besides his triceps. He has a little soreness. He'll be evaluated today by our people and we'll go from there."

It's been a strange spring for Wood, who was slowed at the beginning when he bruised his chest falling out of his hot tub. He made his Cactus League debut March 3, and had pitched one inning in three outings until he strained his right triceps in his March 11 outing. He pitched again March 23, needing nine pitches in one inning against the Giants in that game.

Hendry and Piniella wanted to wait until Wood was examined before saying what the next step will be. Team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo was in town to conduct the exam.

"Hopefully, it won't be significant," Hendry said of the diagnosis.

Wood, who is making the conversion from starter to reliever, is not expected to undergo an MRI. He made four starts last season before he was diagnosed with a partial tear in his right rotator cuff, and decided to rehab rather than undergo more surgery.

"He's obviously put a lot of work in and wanted to be at the top of his game, and he feels badly that he's not 100 percent," Hendry said. "Hopefully, we'll get him right and hopefully it won't be significant. It's not about helping us next Monday but helping us over the long haul."

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Piniella described Wood as being upset after Sunday's game, but said the right-hander was more realistic Monday.

"He's hoping for the best and he's going to work hard," Piniella said.

The Cubs have tried not to rush either Wood or Prior, who will start Wednesday and still hopes to make the rotation.

"I felt all along that both of them would contribute," Piniella said. "I just wasn't sure about the timetable. They're both coming off physical ailments, and in Woody's case, he's learning a new position, pitching out of the bullpen as opposed to starting. I felt that [it'd] probably be a long shot to have both of them ready by Opening Day."

Wade Miller appears to have the edge in the battle for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation.

"Miller has pitched very, very well," Piniella said. "He's pitched 17 innings in camp, he has 16 strikeouts. The last time he threw was very impressive. With Prior as with Wood, I've said all along we didn't want to push. He's made some nice steps here in camp, he really has. Is he ready by Opening Day? We'll see how he pitches on Wednesday. The other kid [Miller] hasn't done anything at all to hurt his chances."

If Prior isn't ready, it's not clear what the Cubs would do.

"We'll discuss those when the time comes," Piniella said. "From the first throw day in Spring Training to the other day in Peoria is a big improvement. He's continued to improve. I don't know what the options are."

Last year, both Wood and Prior began the season on the disabled list. Since May 22, 2002, when Prior was recalled from Triple-A Iowa, Prior and/or Wood have been on the DL 430 days out of a total 859 days. Both of them have been on the DL at the same time for 176 days, or 20.5 percent.

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