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The lesson for Hendry and Piniella: When you have a kid pitcher with a healthy blowtorch, use him. Don't take needless risks in a potential championship season, just because you've fallen in love with the Kerry Wood script. - Jay Mariotti
After several seasons of shameless castigating and finger pointing at Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry over the pitching injury woes of once young phenoms Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, now lo and behold the back page pundit exposes the dorsal fin once again by campaigning for more responsibility for the Cubs latest rising pitching star, Carlos Marmol.
So let's get this straight, shall we?
During spring training, Kerry Wood has done everything asked of him and more to earn the closing role for this season. He is pitching well, the velocity looks great and more importantly is feeling like his old self before experiencing the rash of injuries that nearly destroyed his career.
In short, Piniella believes Wood deserves his shot based upon on the field performance. Seems to make sense. Except to Mariotti.
Not that long ago, the columnist* was wheezing with protest that the Cubs burnt out "Blue Cross/Blue Shield" and insinuated that the club was directly responsible for wrecking their careers. Rather than praising management for seemingly taking a more conservative and cautious approach to Marmol's role for the season, the Piniella and Hendry are roasted for deciding to go with Wood for garnering saves.
Why? After all, which pitching career at this point is more valuable to the future of the team?
Right now, Wood is deemed by Piniella to being the club's best option to close games. And the manager is well aware of Wood's arm injury problems and fully realizes that every "next pitch" thrown off the mound might tragically be the last for Kerry Wood's major league career. That is absolutely a realistic possibility whether Wood pitches in a mid relief capacity, set up man's role or as a closer .
In typical fashion, Mariotti forecasts doom and gloom. In reality, the Cubs really have nothing to lose. And should Wood falter or experience re-injury, Piniella can always utilize Marmol.
Good luck Kerry. Prove the dwarf wrong. Again.