Kerry Wood's return moved up a few days

MESA, Ariz. -- At least there is now some positive news on the Kerry Wood front.

After being kept out of Cactus League games since March 18, the Cubs’ setup man will now appear in Thursday’s game at Peoria against the San Diego Padres. That’s a few days earlier than scheduled since originally Wood was supposed to make his return to action Saturday.

No reason has been given for Wood’s extended rest other than to say the veteran’s innings are being held down essentially so that he isn’t overworked heading into the season.

Wood apparently wasn’t dealing with any health issues, although he did have an undisclosed back issue earlier in camp. He also is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery during the offseason.

Wood has been throwing during his absence from games, although it has been in bullpen sessions and on back fields.

He had been on a regular schedule, making four appearances in an 11-day stretch from March 8-18. His last outing was a scoreless inning against the White Sox when he gave up two hits. He has pitched 3 1/3 Cactus League innings so far.

While most relievers pitch on back-to-back days before their spring preparation is complete, Wood is not expected to pitch on consecutive days before camp ends early next week.