MESA, Arizona -- Scratch one pitcher off the worry list.
Kerry Wood threw 92 pitches (I counted 90, but with Mark & Gail's little boys running around again, I suppose I could have missed a couple), going five innings in a 5-4 win over the Rockies on another sun-kissed day in Arizona.
Analysis: his velocity was fine. A little too fine to the leadoff batter, Aaron Miles, who smacked Wood's second pitch for a home run barely inside the foul pole.
After that he settled down and, as is his custom, seemed to get stronger as he went. He issued four walks -- three of them to Rockies RF Brad Hawpe, who only walked 11 times in 105 AB all last year. Wood allowed two other runs and finished up with two strikeouts to end the fifth inning. He didn't have his best stuff -- not terribly surprising since he hasn't thrown a pitch to major league hitters in three weeks.
Most importantly, he had no pain whatsoever, I didn't see him favoring his shoulder, elbow, back or any other part of his anatomy.
He's now scheduled to stay in Arizona while the rest of the team goes to Las Vegas, throw in a minor league game on Sunday, and then, according to this game recap, pitch in the home opener a week from Friday.
This is different from what was announced earlier, so we must keep watching. There are conflicting reports on whether Mark Prior will throw in a minor league game this weekend as well, so -- well, I'm still not going to panic, because until Prior is put on the DL and we are told he officially won't pitch, I am going to figure that he will pitch, perhaps still as soon as April 12 against the Padres.
Speaking of the DL, Joe Borowski was placed on the 15-day DL today. Depending on how long the club thinks he's going to be out, and whether they need to clear a roster spot, he could be switched to the 60-day DL (where you don't count against the 40-man roster limit).
Other pitchers made their case today: Todd Wellemeyer threw two scoreless innnings, though he walked a couple and got out of the seventh with a strikeout-throwout stealing double play. Will Ohman threw a scoreless eighth, but too late for him to make the roster; he was optioned to Iowa after the game. Other roster moves made today, only one of which is a surprise:
Cody Ransom, a non-roster invitee who was a Giant when Dusty was there, was traded to Texas for a PTBNL.
Calvin Murray and Angel Echevarria were "reassigned" to minor league camp, probably never to be seen again.
Stephen Randolph and his walks were put on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
And the one I don't get: Scott Williamson was added to the 40-man roster. Williamson is rehabbing from elbow surgery and won't pitch till at least after the All-Star break, which means he can go on the 60-day DL. Perhaps you need to be added to the 40-man roster first, before this happens.
The same source who told me about the Cliff Bartosh deal told me today that the Cubs are also scouting 27-year-old lefty reliever John Parrish of the Orioles. Looking at his stats, you can see he walks way too many hitters (more walks than strikeouts his rookie year), but hey, he's lefthanded. I swear, if I were lefthanded, I'd ask for an audition for the Cubs bullpen.
But today was a happy day. Jeff spent most of the day lying flat on his back with the two kids piling on, and he put his cap over his face in the 6th when Corey Patterson was hitting, and actually worked the count, and hit a double. We may be on to something here -- I'll let you know if I can convince him to do this again.
All the regulars except Michael Barrett (day off) and Jeromy Burnitz (five innings) played the entire game, which likely means they won't do so tomorrow to get ready for the trip to Las Vegas over the weekend to face the Mariners.
Finally, today would have been a perfect day to try LaTroy Hawkins in an actual save situation, something the Cubs haven't had too many of lately. OK, I understand this, he threw yesterday. Or perhaps Chad Fox, or someone else who might close games.
Jose Mercedes appeared on the mound wearing #83 instead. Mercedes is 34, last appeared in the majors with the 2003 Expos, and I have no idea how the Cubs acquired him. He allowed a homer to Andy (Don't Call Me Chad) Tracy, but otherwise retired the Rockies easily for the save. Quick! Name three Rockies other than Todd Helton (who didn't play today).
You can't either, can you? Colorado could be the worst team in the National League, despite their 17-12 Cactus League record.
Tomorrow is the Mesa finale, at an unusual time, 1:05 pm CT, with Greg Maddux facing the Diamondbacks, a team he'll face again in five days. Hmmm. Didn't the Cubs just push Kerry Wood's start back a day for the very same reason?
UPDATE [2005-3-30 20:18:19 by Al]: This just in: Maddux indeed won't go tomorrow against Arizona -- he'll throw in a minor league game. John Koronka gets the major league start. The above link also says that Scott Williamson will indeed start the year on the 60-day DL. And no mention of Mark Prior at all.