Notes: No hints for hitters during BP
Wood continues to impress; Eyre takes down Fuld in rundown
MESA, Ariz. -- Saturday was the first time in batting practice that the pitchers threw to the hitters and didn't tell them what was coming, which explained Derrek Lee's reaction to Kerry Wood's curveball.
"It was too good," Lee said of the pitch. "It started at my head and went for a strike."
Wood, one of three pitchers contending for the closer's job, has looked sharp all spring. Cubs manager Lou Piniella didn't see the right-hander's session, but he heard about it.
"The first thing our general manager [Jim Hendry] said when I went to the other field was that Kerry looked really, really good today," Piniella said. "We had all our big boys throwing today. One more session, then we're ready for games."
Kosuke Fukudome also had a tough time against Wood, and swung and missed the first two balls the right-hander threw.
"If I were Fukudome, I wouldn't be too frustrated," Piniella said. "I think when you face a guy early in the spring who is throwing as well as Wood is, you work on your eyesight, you work on learning the strike zone and forget swinging. You get yourself in bad habits trying to catch up to something that you're not ready to catch up to. The more you take pitches, you're better off than swinging. Do all your hitting off the dead arms [against the coaches]. Maybe if a guy wants to work on a changeup a little bit, swing at a changeup."
Other pitchers who threw Saturday included Carlos Zambrano, Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Wood's closer competition, Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol.
Nothing was determined after Saturday's session between the three contenders.
"We've got plenty of time to talk about that situation," Piniella said. "That situation will take care of itself. We aren't going to have to concern ourselves too much with that."
So, we won't write about it.
"Don't write about it," Piniella said, then laughed. "I'm the closer."
The Cubs' starting rotation for Cactus League play, which begins Thursday, will be Dempster, Zambrano, Marquis and Lilly. Seven pitchers could throw in each of the first three games.
Watch your back: During a rundown drill, Cubs pitcher Scott Eyre went to tag Sam Fuld near third base and tripped and slammed the outfielder into the ground.
Eyre helped Fuld up and gave him a hug.
"Don't take off early on me," Eyre said.
Eyre could pick on everybody else, but not Fuld. The outfielder made a highlight-reel catch Sept. 22 against Pittsburgh, snaring Nyjer Morgan's ball crashing into the right-field wall, then doubling up Nate McLouth at first. Who was on the mound? Eyre.
"A little rookie hazing -- I can handle it," Fuld said.
Eyre did say it was accidental and that he tripped.
"That's what he says," Fuld said. "I don't know if I can believe him. I didn't see it. All of a sudden I had this big 220-pound guy on my back."
The way Fuld sees it, he had to work on his diving and sliding anyway.
"I survived it," he said.
Extra bases: Eric Patterson is spending most of his defensive skills time with the outfielders, while Ronny Cedeno is splitting time at short and in the outfield. ... Rich Hill, Sean Marshall and Chad Fox had early throwing sessions Saturday. ... The Cubs will not play an intrasquad game, but will move to HoHoKam Park after Tuesday's workout. They'll have one practice session on Wednesday. Cactus League play starts Thursday. ... Piniella spent most of Saturday watching the hitters. "[Matt] Murton has a really nice swing, and I mentioned it to him," Piniella said. "A really nice, short, quick, compact swing."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.