Wood can't avoid 15-day DL
Blister shelves closer; Samardzija among callup candidates
CHICAGO -- The Cubs placed closer Kerry Wood on the 15-day disabled list for the 12th time in his career with fingers crossed that this stint will be the shortest of them all.
A blister on Wood's right index finger has yet to fully heal, so he was shelved retroactive to July 14, meaning he is eligible and expected to return Tuesday at Milwaukee. Wood hasn't pitched since July 11.
"We sort of felt for the past few days that it would end this way. We were hoping it wouldn't," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before Thursday's game against Florida. "The blister is not entirely healed. So this is really the prudent thing to do. We rode it as long as we could."
"I feel like I'm close," Wood said. "I haven't thrown the ball off the mound in a little while. It's something I've got to do before I jump into games. Hopefully we're ready by Tuesday."
General manager Jim Hendry will make a corresponding roster move to fill Wood's spot on Friday, with Triple-A starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija among the callup candidates.
Wood met with a hand specialist and did not find any irregularities on Thursday.
"We went in there, did some tests, looking for anything," Wood said. "Nothing came back, so we're close."
The prognosis is good for the oft-injured hurler. He just needs to shake off the rust before rejoining the bullpen.
"He is making progress, he is getting better," Hendry said. "But with this amount of time off, I think he's going to need a little work, whether it's a couple of bullpen [sessions], one good one, a bullpen and a [simulated] game. ... We'll see how it goes. But I think it wouldn't be in the best interest of anyone if we got him ready say by Saturday or Sunday and throw him right out there in a game with this long of time off. He is making progress. I just talked to him -- I think he's hopeful that he'll be ready by Tuesday."
The blister first flared up the week before the All-Star break, forcing Wood to sit out the All-Star Game. The Cubs tried to keep him from the DL but succumbed because Wood will now require a couple of days just to get warmed up to throwing in a game again.
"With the way the 'pen wasn't getting overtaxed, we made our best effort to try to save him for this series or the last couple days of this series," Hendry said. "But the longer it went, the more it became apparent that even when he does come out, he's going to need a little bit of work."
Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal tried several remedies, including pickle juice, to no avail. Hendry said Wood has seen three doctors, and joked that he may have even attempted the "Moises Alou approach." Alou is known to urinate on his hands to limit calluses.
"Yeah, I tried that already, weeks ago," Wood said, kidding.
Carlos Marmol will continue as the interim closer, and some bullpen help is on the way. Samardzija's recent success makes him an option.
"It's a possibility," Hendry said. "We'll probably see how the game goes, then decide. You never want to get out ahead of yourself and say it might be this guy or that guy, and then something changes. He'll be considered. But I also wouldn't rule out if we get a tremendous game by 'Z' that we don't have to have 12 pitchers ... It doesn't have to be a pitcher, but he'll certainly be talked about today and considered."
Samardzija, an ex-Notre Dame wide receiver, last pitched on Sunday and has thrown three quality starts in a row, striking out 25 and walking five in 19 innings.
"He's pitched good, he's pitched real good," Hendry said. "The kid has a load of potential. We've obviously loved him since we signed him. We gave him a tremendous contract because we believed in his talent and him as a human being. It's a learning process. He certainly wasn't a polished, professional pitcher when he came out of school because 75 percent of his energy was directed toward football."
Samardzija wasn't spectacular in Double-A to start the season but turned it on since being promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he is 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA in six starts.
Still, expectations must be tempered. His Major League debut could come this weekend, or it might not even come this year.
"We're aware that Samardzija has pitched well down in Triple-A," Piniella said. "But we'll wait and see after the ballgame."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.