Jeromy Burnitz, replacing fan-favorite Sosa, will likely start in right field. Burnitz signed with the Cubs as a free agent on Feb. 2, the same day Sosa was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Sosa would delight fans at Wrigley Field with his dash to the outfield at the start of games.
“It’s definitely going to be a new sight to see me out there,” Burnitz said.
With the Cubs’ pitching staff struggling and the Brewers’ new-look lineup playing well, Wood is returning at an ideal time. He was scheduled to start opening day but was scratched with a sore shoulder and a stiff back.
All hopes for the Cubs are riding on the health of Wood and Mark Prior, the hard-throwing aces who carried Chicago to the brink of the 2003 World Series. The two All-Star pitchers of 2003 combined for just 14 wins last season.
Both were hurting in spring training—Wood had a sore shoulder, Prior a sore elbow. Prior was put on the disabled list to give him more time to build up arm strength.
The 27-year-old Wood missed two months last season because of tendinitis in his right triceps. He missed the entire 1999 season after Tommy John surgery.
“Delivery-wise, he’s cleaned up a lot of things,” Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “It’s just a matter of him staying out there. You can set goals for 20 wins, but a lot of things have to go right to reach those goals.”
Chicago gave up 19 runs as it lost two of three games in its season-opening series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Six Cubs pitchers combined to give up 13 hits and three walks in an 8-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
With Carlos Lee batting cleanup, the Brewers’ offense is off to a fast start.
Lee homered and drove in four runs on Wednesday in his first big game since being acquired in the offseason, and Milwaukee routed Pittsburgh for the second time in as many games, 10-2.
“So far, so good,” Lee said after Milwaukee outscored Pittsburgh 19-4 in the two-game series. “We’re doing a good job with defense, pitching and we’re getting some key hits, big base hits, and that’s the way we have to play.”
Milwaukee is off to a positive start after dropping 94 games during a 12th consecutive losing season in 2004.