Wood ready to go after distraction-less spring

Wood ready to go after distraction-less spring

Wood ready to go after distraction-less spring
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This has been one of the quietest, distraction-less Spring Training camps that Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood can remember.

Well, there was a problem when the team switched from Fitch Park to HoHoKam Park and the cooking staff tried to set up outside the clubhouse, but their equipment was blocking the sidewalk. That's it.

"Work must be getting in the way of that," Wood said Monday of the peaceful camp. "I get there pretty early and I'm one of the last guys there. These guys get there early and start working. I know [hitting coach] Rudy [Jaramillo] has kept them after games a few times. We don't have time to mess around."

Wood couldn't remember ever spending as much time on the back field doing defensive drills. When a team leads the Major Leagues in errors, every area needs to be polished.

"It's something they wanted to address and something they wanted to clean up," Wood said. "It won't be for lack of effort or lack of work this spring. We've gone out and addressed it the way we should, which is working on it to try to get better."

On Monday, Wood made his final spring outing, retiring the side on 11 pitches in the fifth and picked up the win in relief as the Cubs roughed up the D-backs, 8-3.

Manager Dale Sveum predicted pregame an 11-pitch outing, and Wood came through. It was the right-hander's seventh appearance and he will leave Arizona with five innings total. The Cubs hope that's enough.

"[We're] just a little more patient this year," Wood said. "We get here [to camp] and we're excited to be around the guys and next thing you know, six days later, we're facing hitters. We backed it off a little bit."

At 34 and entering his 15th season, Wood should know how to prepare. His 2011 season ended early due to a torn meniscus in his left knee, but that hasn't slowed him. The light workload may be more preventive than anything else.

"I feel good, my body feels ready to go," Wood said. "Counting back stuff and side stuff, I've been off the mound enough."

Wood said his command has been good. He's been able to throw his cutter to both sides of the plate and just needs to fine-tune his curve.

Wood has averaged 56 innings over the last four seasons and in his role as the Cubs' No. 1 set-up man, hopes to reach that total again and possibly more.

"The only thing I did tell [Sveum] is, 'If there's a day when something comes up and I can't go, I'll personally come in and talk to you,'" Wood said.

He did that once last year with manager Mike Quade. Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio want to make sure when they get Wood warmed up for a game that they use him.

"I don't think there will be as many up and down's [in the bullpen] as last year," Wood said.

Since 1998, Wood has spent all but two seasons with the Cubs. Does he have a feel for this team?

"It's really hard to get a read," Wood said. "I haven't seen all the guys down in the 'pen. I know the energy level is definitely here, we've put a lot more work in and guys still have energy and are still upbeat every day. Spring has a tendency to get long, especially with the amount of work these guys have been doing. I know they're all itching to get going. We've got a good young team and excited to get rolling."