MILWAUKEE -- As far as Mark Prior knows, it'll be business as usual at Wrigley Field on Friday. He might want to bring a hard hat.
Prior is scheduled to start for the Chicago Cubs to open a three-game series against Philadelphia. Crews have spent the past week installing nets on the underside of the upper deck in an attempt to prevent any more chunks of concrete falling. There have been three instances since June 9.
"There's not a whole bunch I can say about that," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said when asked about the stadium issue. "That's not in my department or jurisdiction, No. 1. And No. 2, I'm not an engineering man, a structural engineer. I'll leave that to the right people."
Prior, who is the Cubs player representative, said he never considered safety to be a problem at Wrigley until he heard the stories about the falling concrete.
"Obviously, you don't want to put somebody in harms way," Prior said. "You'd like to think it's going to be safe. At worse, I'd think if anything went bad it would be a water main break or something in the infrastructure."
What about a hard hat day promotion?
"Yeah, 'Hard Hat Day' for the rest of the year," Prior said, laughing. "It's an old building and sooner or later, something is going to have to be done with it one way or the other."
Plus, if the Cubs don't play at Wrigley, what are the alternatives?
"Maybe we can go to Comiskey," Prior said.
He was joking, folks.
Kerry Wood / P
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Kid K: With his 10 strikeouts on Wednesday, Kerry Wood now has 1,146 career K's to move into fifth place on the team's all-time list. He passed Hippo Vaughn, who fanned 1,138 in his career.
Fergie Jenkins is the Cubs' all-time leader with 2,038 strikeouts, followed by Charlie Root (1,432), Rick Reuschel (1,367) and Bill Hutchison (1,225).
Most ballparks provide the pitch speed during games but Wood said he doesn't look when he fires a fastball.
"The only time I've ever looked at the radar gun is on a changeup or a slider," he said. "If I throw a slider that I don't think did what was supposed to, I'll check the speed on it. More so on my changeup, because I have a tendency to throw it too hard sometimes. I throw four or five changeups a game, so I'll look up there four or five times maybe."
But not when he throws a 90-plus mph fastball?
"No," Wood said. "I never was a gun watcher. I kind of always knew. In the minor leagues you'd have your teammates holding the gun and sometimes they'd come in and tell you what you're throwing. I figured that's what I always throw, which is around 95.
"I can feel when I throw one and let it go," he said. "I can make a one or two mile-an-hour guess. But I don't really care."
The guy who has the toughest job handling hard throwers is catcher Michael Barrett. He wears extra padding on his left hand because of a broken index finger. Barrett says velocity isn't the problem, movement is.
"Catching these guys, even the lefties who don't throw 100, they're tough," he said. "(Kent) Mercker has such amazing movement on his fastball that if you catch it the wrong way one time it hurts.
"A guy could throw 83 (mph), like Jimmy Anderson, and he didn't throw hard but the movement on his fastball was late and it would catch you and made it feel like you caught a 100 mile-an-hour one," Barrett said. "It's more the movement. The velocity of the pitch plays a little bit but not as much. If you can predict where it's going to end up, you can prevent your hand from hurting. It's the guys with the movement who hurt you."
300 Club: Houston pitcher Roger Clemens will be watching Sunday when Greg Maddux tries for his 300th career win. Clemens is the last pitcher to join the exclusive club, doing so June 13 while pitching for the New York Yankees. He was denied the chance to win No. 300 at Wrigley Field in an Interleague game between the Cubs and Yankees.
"I'm sure it will be special for him, I know it was for me," Clemens said Wednesday. "Especially if he does it at home."
Clemens and Maddux haven't faced each other much, but the Rocket is well aware of Maddux's style.
"He really knows how to pitch," Clemens said. "I mean the things he does consistently are the things we all try to do, change speeds, hit your spots. We'd all like to do those things and try to do them but there aren't many who have been as consistently successful like he's been."
Moises Alou / RF
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Scorecard: Baker tweaked his lineup Thursday, giving Moises Alou a day off and starting Tom Goodwin in left. Corey Patterson batted fifth for the seventh time this season, and Ramon Martinez started at short.
Has Baker considered making radical changes?
"What's radical?" he said. "How many different lineups have I had already? Shoot. How many games have we played, 100 something? I bet I've had probably 85 different lineups."
According to research, Baker was off by one. Counting the Interleague games and factoring in the pitcher, the Cubs have used 86 different batting orders in 101 games. The most common one, used four times, is Todd Walker, Corey Patterson, Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Alex Gonzalez, Michael Barrett and Matt Clement.
If you only consider one through eight in the lineup and exclude games with designated
hitters, then Baker has used 67 batting orders in 95 games. The most common, used 11 times, is Walker, Patterson, Sosa, Alou, Ramirez, Lee, Gonzalez, and Barrett.
Classified ads: The Cubs are batting .230 against left-handed pitchers vs. .275 against right-handers. Sammy Sosa is hitting .167 against lefties. Any way to get a southpaw batting practice pitcher?
"That would help," Baker said. "In San Francisco, we found a very dependable guy. In Chicago it's tough because you play so many day games -- unless you get a night shift guy. It's hard to find that guy. When you're playing night games, guys can come over after work."
Quick conversion: Ryan Dempster struck out two in one inning of relief on Wednesday for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Dempster is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last August, and is being considered for a relief role with the team this year.
"We need to see if he can go back-to-back days first," Baker said. "With (Mike) Remlinger's health being sort of inconsistent, can you afford two guys who can't go two or three days in a row? That's going to put pressure on other guys to pick up the slack and they could come up lame, too."
Remlinger opened the season on the disabled list after undergoing shoulder surgery last October and was sidelined again in late June.
Congratulations: Todd and Marci Hollandsworth welcomed their second son, Tugg, to the world early Thursday. Tugg checked in at 7 pounds 4 ounces at 7:08 a.m. CT. No word on whether he's a right-hander or lefty.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions.