Kerry Wood Sidelined Again

Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 7:27 am
By: News On 6

Kerry Wood is out again, and Freddy Sanchez might follow him to the disabled list.

One week before the Chicago Cubs were set to open the season in Cincinnati, Wood's chances of being ready for opening day were dashed by another injury. The former ace hurt his right shoulder pitching in relief Sunday and was experiencing more stiffness than usual Monday.

Wood, converted from starter to reliever, will not be ready for the first game.

``No, that's not going to happen,'' Cubs manager Lou Piniella said in Mesa, Ariz. ``Let's just hope it's not serious and he can resume preparing himself. Obviously, we'll give him time.''

Wood was to undergo an evaluation from the Cubs' medical staff Monday. He appeared in only four games last season and was trying to make a comeback from a partially torn rotator cuff, an injury he chose to rehab rather than repair with surgery.

``Certainly this is a setback for him,'' Piniella said. ``It's a shame, because Kerry has really worked hard, put in a lot of time over the winter, and he was disappointed in the setback.''

The 1998 NL Rookie of the Year, who struck out 20 Houston Astros in his fifth major league start, has been on the disabled list 10 times in his major league career _ and could be headed there again.

Sanchez, the NL batting champion last year, is also in danger of starting the season on the DL.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' second baseman, frustrated with a slow-to-heal knee injury, sought a second opinion that confirmed the team's evaluation of a sprained right knee ligament.

Sanchez was hurt turning a double play March 6. Still unable to run the bases or make sharp cuts in the field, he flew to Birmingham, Ala., to be evaluated and undergo a second MRI by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who found no tears or other previously unseen problems in Sanchez's knee.

``It's great news on Freddy,'' Pirates manager Jim Tracy said in Bradenton, Fla. ``When Freddy Sanchez is ready to go, we will get him back out there.''

Sanchez was to resume his conditioning program Tuesday and, unless there is significant improvement in the next several days, is expected to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said the injury evaluation process is simple: Sanchez tells the club how he feels and, until he is comfortable running the bases and moving laterally, he won't play.

``The evaluation was the same as we had,'' Littlefield said. ``Basically, it's a right knee sprain and he'll continue to work back to playing. It's a go-as-he-feels scenario. The better he feels, the quicker he'll get out there.''

The Florida Marlins found an experienced closer for their young bullpen, acquiring Jorge Julio and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit.

Julio has 99 major league saves, including 16 last season, and is excited to join the Marlins.

``It's good for me, because this team is giving me the opportunity to be the closer,'' Julio said in Tucson, Ariz. ``I'm so happy.''

The 28-year-old right-hander went 2-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 62 appearances with the Diamondbacks and New York Mets last year. He was Arizona's closer for part of the season, earning 15 saves in 19 chances.

Julio began his career with Baltimore in 2001 and saved 83 games for the Orioles from 2002-04.

``We thought it was the right thing to do, given the composition of the bullpen, to bring in the experience, a guy who has closed, and push some other components back in the 'pen,'' Florida general manager Larry Beinfest said.

The Mets will be without reliever Duaner Sanchez even longer than expected. He has a broken bone in his pitching shoulder and is expected to be sidelined until at least August.

Sanchez hasn't pitched for New York since July, when he separated the same shoulder in a taxi accident and had surgery. Before that injury, he was having a stellar 2006 season as the primary setup man for closer Billy Wagner.

The right-hander, disciplined in spring training this year for repeated tardiness, felt a pop in his right shoulder Thursday and cut short his first bullpen session in eight months after 11 pitches.

He flew to New York last weekend for tests and was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of a small bone in the front of his right shoulder.

``I wasn't expecting it at all,'' Sanchez said in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ``It's frustrating. I feel like I let my teammates down.''

Surgery is recommended, the Mets said, but Sanchez was still weighing his options. The procedure would involve securing the bone with a small screw.

In another trade, the Los Angeles Dodgers, seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder because of a potential season-ending injury to Jason Repko, acquired Brady Clark and cash from Milwaukee for reliever Elmer Dessens.

In other news, pitcher Jake Peavy was picked to start on opening day for the San Diego Padres, who plan to release infielder Todd Walker on Tuesday.

In other games:

Reds 5, Red Sox 0

At Sarasota, Fla., Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed five hitless innings for Boston, but walked five and threw 102 pitches. Ken Griffey Jr., playing only his second spring training game after recovering from a broken hand, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Braves 6, Astros 4

At Kissimmee, Fla., Woody Williams threw 92 pitches for Houston and allowed five hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Cardinals 3, Marlins 1

At Jupiter, Fla., Adam Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings for St. Louis, allowing four hits and lowering his spring ERA to 0.98. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.

Tigers 6, Nationals 5

At Lakeland, Fla., star catcher Ivan Rodriguez doubled twice from the leadoff spot and Mike Maroth pitched six innings for Detroit, allowing five runs and seven hits. Cristian Guzman hit a three-run homer for Washington.

Orioles 5, Twins 3

At Fort Myers, Fla., Minnesota's Sidney Ponson made a strong argument for a spot in his new team's rotation. He pitched six scoreless innings against his former team, trimming his ERA to 3.94.

Blue Jays 2, Pirates 2, 10 innings

At Bradenton, Fla., starting pitchers Josh Towers of Toronto and Paul Maholm allowed no earned runs between them. Pittsburgh reliever Masumi Kuwata, formerly one of Japan's top pitchers, sprained his right ankle when he ran into plate umpire Wally Bell while backing up third.

Indians 4, Devil Rays 3

At Winter Haven, Fla., Jeremy Sowers, Cleveland's No. 3 starter, yielded one run and five hits over six innings.

Yankees 5, Phillies 1

At Tampa, Fla., Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth and Kei Igawa gave up one run and three hits in five effective innings for New York. Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer. Rivera has allowed four hits over nine shutout innings overall.

Athletics 6, Rockies 3

At Phoenix, Eric Chavez, Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley homered for Oakland.

Cubs 8, Angels 7

At Tempe, Ariz., Chicago sluggers Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez each had three hits and two RBIs. Los Angeles lefty Joe Saunders allowed eight hits and seven runs, six earned, in six innings.

Cubs starter Jason Marquis gave up seven hits and four runs in 4 1-3 innings. Vladimir Guerrero hit a solo homer and Garret Anderson added a two-run shot off Marquis.

Brewers 9, Diamondbacks 2

At Tucson, Ariz., Milwaukee's Claudio Vargas limited his former team to two runs in seven innings.

Giants 3, White Sox 2

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Matt Cain pitched six strong innings and Armando Benitez got an impressive four-out save for San Francisco. Barry Bonds went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Mets 6, Dodgers 5

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Brad Penny tossed four pain-free innings for Los Angeles, though he walked five. Penny missed his last start with a stiff shoulder and hadn't pitched in a game for 10 days. New York starter Tom Glavine struck out seven in six innings but gave up three runs and five hits. He did not walk a batter.

Rangers 10, Mariners 6

At Surprise, Ariz., Jamey Wright, the leading candidate to be Texas' fifth starter, gave up six hits, five runs, a pair of solo home runs and walked one in 5 1-3 innings.

The Mariners got a scare in the first inning when No. 3 starter Miguel Batista took a line drive off his ribs, but stayed in the game to go six innings, giving up 12 hits and six runs.

Royals 5, Padres 2

At Peoria, Ariz., Khalil Greene went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a stolen base for San Diego and raised his spring average to .440.

Royals starter Brandon Duckworth got out of several jams in his 3 1-3 innings.