MESA, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood insisted Monday that all is well, despite recent news that he had an undisclosed back issue early in camp and a current eight-day stretch during which he hasn’t pitched in a game.
“[Pitching coach Chris] Bosio kind of talked about the pace of spring this year and kind of how many innings we wanted to get to,” Wood said. “We got in four [outings] early and then did a side, some stuff working on curveballs and then kind of slowed it down a little bit and we’ll get ready to crank it up here in the next couple of days.”
It still isn’t clear when Wood was dealing with a balky back other than early in camp. Manager Dale Sveum described it as a “spasm” and said that the issue is long past. So what’s with the extended rest of late?
“[The back] is not the issue. It’s just backing off to ease on into the season after getting built up and ready to go a couple of weeks ago,” Sveum said.
According to Wood, the plan was always to get him to somewhere between eight and 10 innings before the season started. He has pitched 3 1/3 innings in Cactus League games and says he has been working on his breaking ball on the back fields.
Wood had a bullpen session Monday morning and is expected to have another before he gets into a game Saturday. He will then likely pitch in a game Monday before shutting it down until the regular season arrives.
“I just want to stay where I’m at and stay consistent with my breaking ball,” said Wood, who claims he’s otherwise healthy. “I think I’ve had a good spring working on that throwing a little more than I have normally in the spring. And just command. Obviously you need to have a second pitch and command of your fastball when you break camp. Just being fresh for the start of the year.”
It is typical for veterans, especially relievers, to have a limited schedule during the spring. Sveum said that right-hander Trevor Hoffman threw just seven innings with the Brewers one spring.
“It’s a long, long spring for guys who have had issues with stuff and you just try to monitor everything to where you’re making sure they’re ready for Opening Day and they can sustain a whole season,” Sveum said.
It begs the question, though, of whether or not Wood can stay healthy all season in the vital role of setup man. Sveum admits it’s a concern.
“You like a bullpen to be like the Giants were a couple of years ago where you had seven setup men and a closer,” Sveum said. “That’s the perfect world. You’re always looking for those things because guys can’t pitch all the time. And hopefully you’re in the situation to use your setup guy all the time because that means you’re winning a lot of games.”