Blister still bothering Wood

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE – Cubs reliever Kerry Wood threw in the bullpen Monday, but manager Lou Piniella said his closer is not close to returning from a blister on his pitching hand.

Wood is eligible to return Tuesday at Milwaukee, but still hasn’t fully recovered from the blister on his right index finger that’s kept him out since July 11.

“He threw with a protective pad on it for a while, it felt OK. He took it off and tried to throw without it and he couldn’t,” Piniella said.

Piniella said he hoped that the righty might pitch in a simulated game as early as Wednesday, making his return from the DL unlikely during Chicago’s four-game set in Milwaukee.

“We’ll probably get a few hitters out here, let him face a few hitters,” the manager said.

The protective pad has helped ease the pain Wood has felt in the finger, but he can’t use it during a game.

“You can do it pitching in a little simulated game or something to keep your arm in shape and it’s something we’re contemplating doing,” Piniella said. “But during the game, no.”

It’s left the Cubs with no clear closer.

Rookie Jeff Samardzija saved his first game with two scoreless innings Sunday, but he wasn’t available Monday night as the team monitors his workload.

Other closing options include Carlos Marmol, who has four saves this season, and Bob Howry, who has struggled recently and is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA during five appearances in the last 10 days.

“We’re going to pitch whoever is available, whoever’s freshest. I’ve got three people that I can call on to close,” Piniella said. “We’ll just rotate it around it and throw the freshest arm.”

Wood, who is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, had saved 24 of 29 chances and was selected to the NL All-Star team, but was put on the DL retroactive to July 14 for the 12th time in his 10-year career.

“The healing will be there when he’s ready to pitch,” Piniella said of a potential timetable for Wood’s return. “It looks better, but he’s obviously not feeling well enough to pitch.”