Blister still an issue so Wood skips simulated game

MILWAUKEE -- Cubs closer Kerry Wood had another setback Wednesday when the blister on his right index finger prevented him from throwing a simulated game.

The All-Star hurler was scheduled to throw a simulated game before Chicago took on the Milwaukee Brewers in the third game of a four-game series.

"Initially we had talked about a simulated game, bringing a few hitters here and let them get some work in with a little pad on his finger, but it didn't happen because he's really not close to coming back," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "So why risk it?"

Wood was eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but the right-hander hasn't recovered from the blister that's kept him out since July 11.

Wood has been pitching with a protective pad on his hand and throwing mostly changeups to keep the pressure off the finger, but he can't use the device in a game. Piniella didn't want to say what the Cubs would do if his closer was out for a month or more.

"Let's not speculate until it becomes clear that he's ready to pitch," Piniella said.

Wood, who is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, had saved 24 of 29 chances before being put on the DL for the 12th time in his 10-year career.

"Woody wants to get out there, it's just a question of being able to throw without discomfort," Piniella said.

The Cubs don't have a closer currently.

Rookie Jeff Samardzija saved his first game with two scoreless innings on Sunday, but gave up a run on Tuesday night in the ninth inning of the Cubs' 7-1 victory. Carlos Marmol saved his fifth game on Monday night and Bob Howry has struggled in his last six appearances.

Piniella says he's planning to close with whoever is the freshest. But the Cubs could lean toward Samardzija, who has an upper-90s fastball with deceptive movement.

"We don't know how long Woody is going to be out. It's been three weeks now, and I don't have a timetable," Piniella said. "So the more experience we can give this kid in late innings, the better. We can lean on a few people out there and experience is part of the learning process."