Cubs Notebook: Murton for certain?; Kendall keeps on starting; Blanco report.
Lou Piniella has seen enough of rookie relievers struggling and is all but making a banner that says, “Come back, Kerry!!!”
Reports that the oft-injured Kerry Wood looked sharp in back-to-back games for Class A Peoria on Thursday and Friday have the Cubs manager very interested in seeing Wood pitch for the parent club - and soon.
Wood, who has yet to pitch in the major leagues this season because of right shoulder tendinitis, was at Great American Ball Park on Saturday and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today.
After that? He likely will go on another rehab assignment - to determine whether he can pitch more than an inning in an appearance and whether he can make back-to-back appearances again.
Piniella can’t wait to see a healthy Wood in his ’pen.
“You know, we were able to get some nice work out of our younger pitchers in the bullpen,” Piniella said. “I’m talking about (Billy) Petrick and (Rocky) Cherry. ... whoever was here. Lately, that area there is starting (to struggle) a little bit.
“It’s good to see Kerry throwing the ball well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, and at the same time, monitor the situation and be careful. We’re getting ourselves into a situation where once we get into September, a little experience helps. Especially for pitching. If he’s on track, I don’t see why there isn’t any reason we can’t get him here sooner rather than later.”
Wood’s pitches have reached the low to mid-90s (mph) in his one-inning stints. Friday night, he told reporters, “I’d say it’s safe to say that (the shoulder problems are gone). It’s been a rough couple of years, but, hopefully, it’s all behind me now. I’m going to try and go two innings in Iowa in the next four or five days or so.”
In back-to-back losses to St. Louis and Cincinnati, Petrick gave up four runs in one inning Thursday and was sent to Iowa, and Cherry gave up two runs in one-third of an inning Friday.
Murton for certain today?
Matt Murton was originally in the lineup Saturday night and was to have made his first start since being recalled from Iowa after he hit .331 there.
Less than a half-hour before the game, however, the Cubs announced Cliff Floyd would start in right, and Murton was back on the bench.
Murton was not injured. The Cubs said they’d rather have Floyd play Saturday night than in a day game today, so Murton’s expected to get the nod today.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was out of the starting lineup for a rest but was expected back today.
Alternate to the alternate plan
Last week, Piniella said Jason Kendall and Koyie Hill would alternate behind the plate because Kendall was struggling (hitting .067 through Wednesday). But Kendall made his third straight start Saturday after going 2-for-2 Thursday and 1-for-3 Friday to raise his average to .182.
“I’m going to catch whoever is hitting,” Piniella said Saturday. “This alternating thing seems like a fairly good idea unless someone gets really hot.”
Hill (.162 going into Saturday) was slated to start and catch Carlos Zambrano today.
The Blanco report
Catcher Henry Blanco (herniated disc in his neck) was hitting .333 (4-for-12) with four RBI through six games in a rehab stint at Peoria. He caught five innings Friday night.
The Cubs hope to get him 25 to 30 minor league at-bats to get him ready to return.
Former Notre Dame two-sport star Jeff Samardzija gave up six runs on 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings for Class A Daytona in a 6-2 loss to Jupiter on Friday. He walked two and struck out six, and his record fell to 3-7 with a 5.06 ERA.
Double-A Tennessee’s Kyle Reynolds had four hits, including two homers, and six RBI in a 14-1 victory over Carolina.
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