GOODYEAR, Ariz. The Cubs bullpen is built around Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, and right now its hard to imagine endgame situations without them.
Wood hasnt been in a game since March 18, and manager Dale Sveum doesnt expect to see the veteran reliever pitch before Thursday. Marmol will throw Monday against the San Diego Padres, his first real test since leaving a game last week with a cramp in his right hand (an MRI revealed no significant nerve injury).
Sveum has made reference to back issues, but said Sunday that it was somewhat pre-planned for Wood to get a rest as camp wound down.
It locked up on him awhile ago, (but) the back had nothing to do with it, Sveum said. Were just easing him back into the season since he had pitched already. Nothing spectacular (with) the back is going on.
Theres just no reason for any extra workload.
Does Wood have any other physical problems besides his back?
Not that I know of, Sveum said. Nothings going on there.
Sveum said he didnt think that Wood had thrown a side session in around a week. Wood has appeared in four Cactus League games, and is expected to get a few more innings before Opening Day.
Sveum has compared the situation to a starter reaching 85 pitches and then dialing back the intensity. This could be a way to preserve a 34-year-old reliever.
No matter what, the front office figures to be monitoring the market for bullpen help. When the Cubs reported to camp five weeks ago, they had already identified their eight position players, and had clear ideas about their rotation.
But the middle of the bullpen figures to be young andor inexperienced. Potential setup man Rafael Dolis is 24 years old and has pitched in only one big-league game. Lendy Castillo a Rule 5 pickconverted infielder whos never pitched above A-ball is in the mix. Its a need that could be addressed outside the organization.
You never know, Sveum said. Obviously, this is the time of spring training where people become available on waivers or (are) released because of numbers problems and they can still pitch. Yeah, theres an opportunity within the next two weeks.
Theres an above-average chance you might pick somebody up. Whether he sticks with us or not, thats another story.
Sveum repeated that nothings etched in stone when he was asked about Chris Volstad being the fourth starter, but the sense is that Randy Wells could profile well as a reliever.
Rodrigo Lopez, who could be a good veteran swingman, continued his strong spring by limiting the Cleveland Indians to two runs in 4.1 innings during Sundays 6-2 win at Goodyear Ballpark.
Andy Sonnanstine has already declined his outright to Triple-A Iowa and asked for his release, becoming a free agent. Lopez doesnt want to consider any possibility other than Wrigley Field.
My mind is in Chicago, Lopez said. This is not over yet. I wont think about that yet. Thats why I came here, asking for the opportunity to make the team and I feel like Ive been doing enough to make (it) and well see what happens.
The last two years Ive been in the same situation. Nobody says anything until the last moment.