Jeff Passan: Spring Training

Wood in hot water over latest injury

Wood in hot water over latest injury
By Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports
February 15, 2007

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports
MESA, Ariz. – Of course he did.

Really, what other reaction could there be upon hearing that Kerry Wood did not throw off the mound at the Chicago Cubs' initial workout Thursday because he had hurt himself falling out of a hot tub?

The humor, macabre though it may be, was not lost on Wood, who has become to injuries what Ziegfield is to follies.

"It's almost comical at this point," Wood said.

Were this anyone else, it would be a gut buster. With Wood, it's just a whimper of a laugh, more a lament, actually.

Because it's impossible to forget Wood of nine years ago. On May 6, 1998, a month before he turned 21, Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros. It was one of the best pitching performances ever. Maybe the greatest.

Now one of the special arms of the past 25 years has been chipped at like a great stone whittled to a pebble, injuries taking away who he was and transforming him into something completely different, foreign even to him.

"Just ... typical," he said. "Just getting out of the hot tub at the house and took a spill and didn't think anything of it. A little bit more than I thought. Nothing's wrong. It's just gonna be a couple extra days. My arm feels great. My body feels good."

Even if this is just a minor setback, it dirtied a day on which Wood showed off his new physique. He's 30 pounds lighter than last year and seems reinvigorated by a move to the bullpen designed to take strain off his surgically repaired right elbow and shoulder.

In all likelihood, no one would have noticed that Wood wasn't throwing from the mound if manager Lou Piniella hadn't said anything. Wood did most of the day's work – running drills, pitchers' fielding practice, playing catch on flat ground.

In the annals of odd injuries, this one does not match up with Chris Brown straining his eyelid while sleeping, Steve Sparks blowing out his shoulder trying to tear a telephone book in half or Oddibe McDowell cutting his finger while buttering a roll.

Though it is close. This is Kerry Wood, after all, a black cat, broken mirror and stroll under a ladder rolled into one.

Jeff Passan is a national writer for Yahoo! Sports. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Jeff a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Thursday, Feb 15, 2007 7:14 pm, EST

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