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Notes: Wood might return next week

Notes: Wood might return next week

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CINCINNATI -- If all goes well, Kerry Wood could be pitching for the Cubs sometime during the upcoming homestand.

Wood joined the team Saturday after pitching back-to-back games for Class A Peoria on Thursday and Friday. He's totaled seven innings in rehab outings for Peoria and the Mesa Rookie League team, and passed all the tests.

"I've been feeling good -- actually feeling great," Wood said Sunday. "I think we've gotten over the hump."

The plan now is to pitch for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday at West Tenn. The Triple-A Iowa team is in Salt Lake City, which is a long trip for a short stint. Wood will pitch in relief on Tuesday, coming in during one inning and then finishing the next.

"Truthfully, I think the next step is here," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I would think sometime in the Mets series [Aug. 3-5] would be a good timetable. It's good news. That's like trading for a reliever -- like trading for a good reliever at the deadline."

Wood's highest pitch count so far has been 17, and the Cubs would like him to throw a little more. He's throwing fastball, curveball, slider. The radar guns are showing 92-95 mph, which is good.

If Wood can convince the medical staff he's ready, he could be back during the Cubs' homestand, which begins Monday with a four-game series against the Phillies. The New York Mets come to town for a weekend series. The Cubs' success has motivated Wood even more.

"It's been fun to watch on TV," he said of the team. "I've been here sparingly a couple days at a time and it's been fun. The city's excited, the fans are excited, we're excited and we're playing well, and we have a lot of games left and have to keep it going."

It'll definitely be thrilling to see Wood back on the mound at Wrigley Field.

"I'm going to try to control the adrenaline the best I can," Wood said. "It's going to be difficult, I'm sure. [I'm hoping to] just come in, do my job and get the guys out."

Wood has struggled since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in August 2005. He did make four starts last season, but had to shut down because of problems with the shoulder. He pitched in Spring Training and again had to be shut down because of tendinitis in his shoulder.

This comeback has been somewhat surprising. Wood was close to considering another procedure on his shoulder, which wasn't his first choice.

"I look at it as a second chance," Wood said. "A month and a half ago, I didn't think I'd be talking to you guys, especially about pitching."

That's because about three weeks ago, Wood couldn't throw from 45 feet.

"I was thinking probably another surgery and that could be it, or another surgery and another long rehab," he said. "I wasn't willing to do that at the time. I gave it one more shot and so far so good."

He's heard the comments that he's made a miraculous recovery.

"It was kind of surprising," Wood said. "It was just overnight and unexpected for sure."

Hall of Fame: The Baseball Hall of Fame's board of directors voted to cut the size of the Veterans Committee and the number of players it will consider for future enshrinement, which could affect longtime Cubs third baseman Ron Santo's chances of getting into Cooperstown.

Under the new rules, only the 63 living Hall of Famers will cast ballots for players and a committee of 16 comprised of Hall of Famers, veteran writers, executives and historians will vote for managers and umpires. Previously, past winners of the Frick and Spink awards were allowed to cast ballots, raising the number of voters to more than 80.

Instead of 25 names on the ballot, there will be 10. Committee members will be allowed to vote for four players, and the standard for induction remains 75 percent. Players will be voted on every two years in odd years starting in 2009.

Since it was revamped so that current Hall of Famers vote, the Veterans Committee has yet to elect anyone into Cooperstown. Santo is 0-for-3.

Santo would have liked to see the voting held every year, and not every other year. He felt new names added to the ballot, such as Jim Kaat in the latest voting, take away from the players already on the list.

"Every two years, you could lose votes, and they have," Santo said.

Having just his peers vote is encouraging.

"That's a good thing," Santo said. "I'm glad they changed something, but my opinion is, voting every year is the one thing I wanted."

Extra bases: Since being activated from the disabled list, Ryan Dempster has appeared in three games and is 1-for-1 in save situations. On Saturday, Dempster came on in the ninth and the Reds loaded the bases, but he escaped the jam. "I'd like to see our closer be a little sharper," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He needs the work, and there's a fine balance with working your closer and keeping him ready or overusing him, because now you get in situations where you need him." ... Matt Murton was supposed to start Sunday, but was scratched because Piniella felt he had too many right-handed bats in the lineup and wanted to insert at least one lefty. Cliff Floyd and Jacque Jones both did not start Sunday. ... Wood's bowling tournament raised more than $320,000 for Derrek Lee's Project 3000, which was created to raise awareness for Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, a rare eye disease. ... WGN Radio's Pat Hughes was back in the booth after being sidelined with food poisoning. ... Both the Aug. 5 game against the Mets and the Aug. 19 game against the St. Louis Cardinals have been picked up by ESPN and will be begin at 7:05 p.m. CT.

Minor matters: Cory Bailey gave up three runs on 10 hits over six innings in Iowa's 5-2 loss to Salt Lake. Geovany Soto hit a solo home run. ... Donnie Veal threw five shutout innings in Tennessee's 3-1 win over West Tenn. Veal struck out six. ... Joel Santo gave up one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings and struck out six in Class A Daytona's 5-2 win over Jupiter. ... Robert Hernandez gave up two runs on five hits over five innings in Class A Peoria's 4-0 loss to Dayton. Henry Blanco caught the longest game of his seven appearances, catching the first eight innings. He went 1-for-3 at the plate. Blanco is 5-for-15 with four RBIs and one double in his seven games. ... Class A Boise committed five errors in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver.

On deck: Lefty Ted Lilly will open a seven-game homestand Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. The left-hander is 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts in July, and has won his last seven decisions. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net and ESPN.

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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