Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Bull in the Pen
by Derek Smart
So, the official word now is that Kerry Wood will, upon his return to the Cubs, not start another game for the team in 2005, instead coming out of the bullpen in a yet to be determined role - the logic being that, since the shoulder supposedly got more problematic the later he got into games, that going out for shorter bursts will allow him to continue to contribute to the team this season.
The implication that can be easily derived from this news is that the medical staff, coaching staff, and Kerry Wood himself, have no confidence in his ability to contribute in a starting role this season with the shoulder in its current state, and judging from how things have gone all year, moving to relief appears to be the most prudent use of Wood's talents, if he is, indeed, to be used again.
Of course, that's making the assumption that being used for an inning at a time on consecutive days will be less of an issue than throwing multiple innings on the same day, and I'm not entirely sure that's valid. However, since we've seen the results when he's used in the rotation this season, it's certainly worth a shot if he can make those appearances without doing himself further damage.
But whether the extant damage remains stable or not, surgery seems to be in the offing at season's end, and while it sounds as if the proposed procedure is very similar to what Matt Morris underwent after last season, you'll pardon me if I'm skeptical at this point.
You'll find no bigger Wood fan than me, but I'm nothing if not realistic, and unless Wood makes some significant changes to what appear to be damaging mechanics, this won't be the last time we spend an inordinate amount of energy kvetching about his constant injury woes.
The problem with the idea isn't just that making big changes in mid-career can be difficult, but I've been given little reason to believe that Wood can stuff his stubborn nature long enough to make the necessary alterations. Of course, I don't know the man, only what little I've seen of his public persona, so it's entirely possible that I've got this aspect of the issue wrong.
However, with what little information I have at my disposal, the conclusion that Wood has a bull-in-a-china-shop mentality - or, to properly address the stubbornness, mule-in-a-china-shop - and that said mentality is damaging to any prospect of him fixing what's broken, is inescapable. I hope I'm wrong, but this is a situation where faith is no longer enough - you'll have to show me. Here's to hoping he can.