completed his minor league rehab last night, throwing 1.2 IP (24 pitches) for the AA Tennessee Smokies at West Tenn. Wood had not thrown more than one inning or 17 pitches in any previous rehab outing.
In his eight minor league rehab outings at Mesa, Peoria, and Tennessee over the past three weeks, Wood went:
2 R (1 ER)
Prior to throwing in two consecutive games last Thursday-Friday, Wood had made five relief appearances for AZL Mesa and Peoria where he had a day off after each outing.
And last night was his final test, proving to the Cubs (and to himself) that he could throw in two consecutive innings--where he would have to warm up again after sitting down for a half-inning while his team took its ABs--without any negative physical after-effects.
KW has returned to Chicago, and could be reactivated from the 60-day DL as early as tomorrow, or probably Friday at the latest. Either Angel Guzman or Henry Blanco (probably Guzman) will likely be transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Wood on the Cubs 40-man roster, and Rocky Cherry wil likely be optioned back to AAA Iowa to make room for Woody on the 25-man roster.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella has stated that he plans to initially use Wood in middle relief
(mainly the 6th and 7th innings) while he builds up his stamina and gets acclimated to facing MLB-quality hitters again.
For Wood to be an effective reliever for the Cubs the last two months of the 2007 season, he will have to not only consistently throw his heater in the mid-90's (as he has throughout his rehab assignments at Mesa, Peoria, and Tennessee), he will also have to be able to throw at least two and maybe even three days in a row, as well as throw more than one inning if necessary.
Speaking as someone who watched him throw in his first three rehab outings last month at AZL Mesa, the one main area of concern I would have is that he needs to be able to consistently throw strikes. The heat is definitely there, but I am concerned that the control might not be quite there yet.