Wood's return to closing on horizon

Wood's return to closing on horizon

CHICAGO -- Pitcher Kerry Wood could return to his job as the Cubs' closer in his next outing, but most likely will make one more non-save appearance before returning to his role.

Wood entered in the eighth inning Tuesday after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, and gave up one hit in one inning against the Houston Astros. Carlos Marmol has subbed as the closer and has six saves for the season, including three while Wood was sidelined.

"I understand what we're trying to do here, so I'm not too rusty coming back," Wood said Wednesday about being used as a setup pitcher. "I felt pretty good [Tuesday] and came out and threw strikes."

Wood is continuing to receive treatment for the blister on his right index finger, which had sidelined him since July 11. He will continue to monitor it after it's completely gone. Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he wouldn't hesitate to use Wood in a save situation Wednesday if needed.

"We can close with him today, too," Piniella said. "Let's see how opportunities present themselves."

Wood will host his fifth charity bowling tournament Wednesday night, this time benefiting the Organic School Project. He reported the charity event has nearly doubled the online auction totals. One of the guests expected to participate is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has been reported as the top bidder for the Cubs. Wood said he wasn't going to give Cuban a sales pitch about the team and was happy to have him participate.

"I don't turn anybody away from giving back to the kids," Wood said.

Will the right-hander bowl?

"I've got a left-handed ball," Wood said.

Several of the Cubs will participate in the event, including Bob Howry. He might need the distraction. The right-hander served up a two-out, go-ahead home run to Carlos Lee on Tuesday, the fourth homer he's given up in his past seven appearances.

"Bob is a responsible person and he works hard, and I've got confidence in him," Piniella said. "I'll keep bringing him in there. I'll continue to do so. The home run ball has hurt him. Maybe he's in a little bit of an unfortunate streak, when you make a bad pitch and somebody hits it. He goes out there and competes and gives you everything he's got. I expect him to have a pretty good finish for us."

Howry is a fastball pitcher, and Piniella had suggested he mix up his repertoire more. The problem Tuesday was location.

"I looked at the film, and the catcher was sitting on the outside corner and the ball came back over the middle of the plate," Piniella said. "Lee's a pretty good hitter."

Meanwhile, Jon Lieber pitched three innings Tuesday for Class A Peoria in a rehab outing and gave up three runs on five hits over three innings. He did not have any problems with his right foot, which forced him to go on the disabled list July 11, but said he still has to build up arm strength.

"I was pretty pleased about last night, but I have to get my sinker back," Lieber said. "Overall, I was pleased after not throwing in a game for a while."

There's no timetable for Lieber's next outing.

"I'm not going to interrupt anything that's going on right now," Lieber said of the big league club. "We're winning, so that's all I care about."

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