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Still Breathless

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The Cubs beat the Mariners 5-3 in Peoria this afternoon -- and it was 86 degrees, the warmest day yet this month, enjoyed by 10,155, many of whom (based on the cheering heard on the MLB Audio broadcast) were rooting for the Cubs.

But you don't really care about that, do you?

You want to know about how Mark Prior did in his spring debut.

What's this I hear? You don't care about that, either?

All everyone seems to want to talk about is Kerry Wood, Kerry Wood, Kerry Wood.

I got into a pretty good pissing match today over at the Cubs Usenet newsgroup today over whether the Cubs were "lying" when they said that Wood was fine yesterday, only to learn that he had returned to Chicago this afternoon to be examined by team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo.

There is no doubt that the Cubs weren't very forthcoming last year about Wood's injury, nor Todd Hollandsworth's, and those problems were addressed in part, by replacing the entire training staff.

This article gives every indication that new trainer Mark O'Neal is willing to be totally open with us about the conditions of our unfortunately fragile pitching staff:

"[The MRI] showed a little bursitis in the back of his shoulder, some mild inflammation along some of the cuff muscles but nothing significant," O'Neal said Thursday. "Today, he woke up this morning and we wanted to let Dr. Gryzlo look at him as well with the results of the MRI. That way we can set a plan for him from this day forward."

O'Neal said he expected to know more about Wood's situation later Thursday. Wood was likely to miss his next scheduled start on Monday.

"This is purely precautionary," O'Neal said. "We didn't want to look backwards three or four days from now wishing we had done something. This was a decision [team physician Dr. Stephen Adams], Dr. Gryzlo and myself made and I feel comfortable with it. The results of the exam came back very positive."

So everyone relax a little, OK?

As for Prior, he threw three uneventful innings, allowing a run on three singles, and the Cub offense was provided by home runs -- solo shots by Jason Dubois and Jeromy Burnitz, and a two-run homer from Cody Ransom, who appears to be vying for the Scott McClain Memorial Spring Hall-of-Famer Trophy.

Dubois is probably going to have to hit a homer just about every day like this to prove to Dusty Baker that he should be the everyday starter in LF. All the newsgroup people think he should be. All of YOU think he should be (right?). Not only that, but having Todd Hollandsworth again as a bench player makes the bench stronger, as he's a terrific pinch-hitter, and can play four positions. With Jerry Hairston Jr. also available for several defensive positions, that would give Baker flexibility that the Cubs have almost never had in my lifetime.

I've been accused of being too much of a Baker backer when everyone else is taking potshots at him pointing out his shortcomings, so let me say here that I think he ought to start Dubois in LF. And it may come to Jim Hendry ordering him to do so -- something for which I'd be standing behind Hendry cheering him on. (That sentence has too many prepositions, doesn't it?)

Joe Borowski threw an uneventful inning himself, although he surrendered a homer to Greg Dobbs, someone who's not likely to make the Mariners' major league roster. Jon Leicester finished up for a save, but allowed a run on a couple of hits.

One week from today, yours truly will begin reports from the field. And as it's 36 degrees and puking snow here in Chicago today, that's not a moment too soon.