More knocks for Wood

SportsBaseballChicago CubsFelipe LopezKerry WoodMichael WuertzChicago White Sox

Hall of Famer Luke Appling was nicknamed "Old Aches and Pains" while a member of the White Sox in the 1930s and 1940s.

Kerry Wood, although only 28, has become the Cubs' version of "Aches and Pains" during an injury-plagued career.

His latest setback was described as a recurrence of a stiff right shoulder Wednesday night. It forced him from his start after only three innings of the Cubs' 9-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

That "stiffness" is the extent of what the Cubs disclosed about his condition immediately after the game.

A Reds doctor examined Wood and the right-hander is scheduled for a more thorough office examination Thursday. An MRI has not been scheduled, according the Cubs, but that would appear to be the next step if Thursday's exam proves inconclusive.

"He said it was similar inflammation [to spring training]. We just have to see how he comes out of this," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Wood missed two months of the season with shoulder stiffness after leaving a game April 30 in Houston after three innings. He rested his shoulder, had a rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa and returned to the Cubs on June 29.

From right elbow surgery, to a left oblique strain, to right shoulder tendinitis, to a lower right triceps strain, the 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound Wood, unfortunately, has become synonymous with simulated games, rehab stints and day-to-day prognosis since the Cubs made him the fourth player selected in the 1995 amateur draft.

"It is a concern, but we don't want to jump to conclusions yet," Baker said of Wood's latest malady. "We took him out more as a precaution than anything. We will just have to wait and see [Thursday]."

Wood was not available for comment after the game.

"All I could tell is that he wasn't as crisp compared to the last two starts that I had him," catcher Michael Barrett said. "I don't know if that radar gun is right in left-center … some of the pitches he threw according to that gun were 87 to 91 (m.p.h.). A couple times he hit 95. But it just wasn't the same consistent fastball, the same consistent life we saw the two previous starts."

Wood threw 66 pitches, 41 for strikes. He gave up solo homers in each of his innings to Felipe Lopez, Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. respectively.

"He warmed up great," Baker said. "Then in that one inning, he started feeling something."

Cubs assistant trainer Ed Halbur and pitching coach Larry Rothschild went to the mound to check Wood's condition after he gave up the 412-foot homer to Griffey.

"He wanted to stay in the game, certainly," Baker said. "Whether he was fine or not, that's a question."

"Obviously, we looked and saw his velocity was a little bit down tonight from what it had been in the past," head trainer Mark O'Neal said. "When Ed went out there with Larry, [Wood] denied symptoms. When he came in he was telling us that he was a little tight and we just didn't want to take any chances. So we pulled him from the game.

"We don't want this to develop into anything real significant."

When Wood came to the dugout after the third inning, he began shaking his right arm, according to Baker.

"I knew we better get him out of there," Baker said. "He said it just didn't feel right."

Baker said it is too early to think about rearranging his rotation because of Wood's setback.

"Not yet. We have to see how he comes out of this first before we start thinking about options," said Baker, who saw the Reds rough up relievers Mike Remlinger, Sergio Mitre, Glendon Rusch, Will Ohman and Michael Wuertz.

Aaron Harang provided the Reds with their staff's first complete game of the season, limiting the Cubs to three runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out one. Derrek Lee launched his league-leading 31st home run and Jeromy Burnitz followed with a homer in the Cubs' three-run seventh inning.

fmitchell@tribune.com

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