Friday, February 16, 2007

Despite Fall, Kerry Wood Looking Good in Mesa

Athletic trainer Matt Johnson -- buttonholed in the Cubs clubhouse in Mesa, Ariz. -- would neither confirm nor deny backfence speculation that the cause of hurler Kerry Wood's bellyflop out of his hot tub was a loss of blood pressure to his head that made him faint. People have been known to pass out after rising rapidly, as Wood may have done getting out of the bath, but maybe he just stumbled.

Though Johnson and other club officials shrugged off the question, any notion that the incident means Wood already is destined to miss time this season is fodder for fan panic, and little else. True, Wood won't throw off a mound for up to five days, but he was participating in running and other activities. Wood's throwing was limited merely as a precaution as he comes back from shoulder and elbow injuries that have sidelined him since June 9.

If the mishap had happened to anyone else -- except rotation mate Mark Prior maybe -- Wood's little fall probably would have escaped notice. But in addition to a raft of serious setbacks, this is hardly the first occasion that ill-timed little occurances have happened to Wood, whose previous camps have been tarnished by bronchitis, an ear infection and dizziness.

The good news was that until now Wood had been throwing well, an excellent sign considering that the former No. 4 overall pick has an enormous upside, and is seen by the club as potentially working his way into the closer's role if he can stay healthy. Becoming a closer is asking a lot, considering his track record, but remember, Wood is only 29. There's still time for him to put his career on track.