One of our readers, Greg, made a very good point against sending Kerry Wood to the bullpen this year. Wood’s worst inning is almost always the first. His numbers for that inning are terrible compared to the rest of the game. So that would put a damper on bringing him into a game to pitch only one inning. I don’t really have a great argument against that, other than it’s possible that with Wood knowing he’s only going to pitch one inning, he’d have a different mindset and wouldn’t have to pace himself. Either way, though, I still don’t think Wood should be put back into the rotation. And now the Tribune has posted this little piece of news.
So Kerry Wood may need shoulder surgery. I can’t say that I’m very surprised by that. However, there’s one quote in the article that stood out for me:
He(trainer Mark O’Neal) said Wood would not risk further damage to the shoulder by pitching the rest of the season without the cleanup of his shoulder.
In other words, the question isn’t really how severe is the injury, the question is, can Kerry Wood pitch through the pain in his shoulder? It seems clear at this point that Wood can’t pitch effectively when the shoulder pain flares up. And he can’t carry the load of a starting pitcher without having the pain come back. The Cubs are too deep into the season to experiment with Wood’s shoulder in the starting rotation anymore. If Kerry needs surgery the team should shut him down now, and he should have the procedure, and hopefully come back ready for the start of 2006. Then maybe the Cubs can salvage the final year of his contract.