Indians' Wood confident of quick return

BY foxsports • March 21, 2010

Cleveland's medical staff has predicted Kerry Wood could take eight weeks to get back in a major league game.

The Indians' closer has his own timetable.

``Two months seems like a long time for me,'' Wood said Sunday. ``I don't think it will be that long. I think they might have added a little time on the end just to be safe - which is better.''

Wood is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks with a strained muscle below his right shoulder, an injury both he and the Indians initially dismissed as typical soreness. But when the symptoms Wood has endured for the past three or four springs persisted, he underwent an MRI which revealed a ``moderate'' strain to his right latissimus dorsi muscle.

In past years, Wood would have pitched through the pain. Not this time.

``Looking back, I'm glad we did (have the tests) because I was going to throw off the mound,'' Wood said. ``I could have done more damage and it could have been a lot longer than it is. I've had a lot worse news than this.''

Wood, who has undergone elbow and shoulder surgeries during his career, pulled himself from a scheduled outing on March 13 against Texas because the pain in his upper back wasn't going away. He figured ice and treatment would do the trick, but when he had the same soreness the next time he threw, Wood realized he was hurt.

``It's something I've felt here and there when I'm done throwing for the last few years,'' he said. ``I ice it and come back and it responds the next day just fine. It just didn't bounce back or respond, so we checked it out. I was a little bit surprised with what they found.''

Wood will begin rehab on Monday and should be playing catch within two weeks. He's not worried this injury will linger. In fact, he hasn't felt any pain in a few days, which has convinced him he'll be back sooner than expected.

The 32-year-old has been on the disabled list 12 times in his career, and Wood has felt enough aches and pains over the years to know when he's ready to pitch.

``It feels pretty good,'' said Wood, who signed a two-year, $20.5 million contract with the Indians before last season. ``I don't know if I'm going to be able to talk them into letting me go any faster. But I don't have any symptoms and the strength is there. But I haven't pitched either.''

Wood's injury is giving eighth-inning set-up man Chris Perez a chance to close. Perez made 60 saves while coming up through St. Louis' organization and the right-hander aspires to close games in the majors. Wood feels the 24-year-old Perez has what it takes and that Cleveland's bullpen can survive - for the time being - without him.

``Ultimately, we'd like to have everybody down there and have them fall into order the way their supposed to and go about our business,'' Wood said. ``But we've got enough arms down there to pick it up for a couple weeks. It's a good opportunity for him (Perez). He's going to be doing that at some point.''

With Wood out, Indians manager Manny Acta is going to have to juggle his relievers. Also, Wood's injury means there's an open spot in the bullpen that wasn't there just a few days ago. Acta has plenty of arms to choose from.

``One door closes and another one opens,'' Acta said. ``It's an opportunity for somebody else to make the club that probably wouldn't have made it.''



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