Wood returns to mound for Cubs; Red Sox ship Kim to Colorado

Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2005

Kerry Wood was back on the mound, right where the Chicago Cubs need him. Byung-Hyun Kim is headed to Colorado, the last place a struggling pitcher needs to be.

After missing three weeks due to a sore shoulder and stiff back, Wood threw 92 pain-free pitches to lead Chicago over the Colorado Rockies 5-4 on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

''I felt great,'' he said. ''I felt like I could have gone more. It's a good sign, considering the time I've missed.''

Wood gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings, walking four and striking out three. The Cubs' ace had not pitched since March 9 because of bursitis in his right shoulder. He also missed a scheduled start last week when he woke up with a stiff lower back.

The right-hander is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Sunday. His first start of the regular season is set for April 8, Chicago's home opener against Milwaukee.

''The fastball and the mechanics felt good,'' Wood said. ''I got two strikes on guys and just couldn't put them away. My breaking ball really wasn't where I'd like it to be at this point. I'm sure that's a small adjustment we can make. Maybe it's something with the grip. Overall, I was pleased with it.''

The Boston Red Sox hadn't been pleased with Kim for a long time, so they traded him to Colorado and called the $10 million, two-year deal they gave him before the 2004 season ''a mistake.''

The right-handed reliever with the submarine delivery was sent to the Rockies for 23-year-old left-hander Chris Narveson, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and catcher Charles Johnson, who was immediately designated for assignment and released.

As part of the trade, Colorado sent Boston about $2.6 million to equalize the salaries. Johnson is owed $9 million and Kim $6 million.

''We certainly made a mistake and I take responsibility for that,'' Boston general manager Theo Epstein said in Fort Myers, Fla. ''It's just a mystery what happened to this guy.''

Kim helped the Red Sox reach the 2003 playoffs but has struggled badly since. Epstein said Kim, when informed of the trade, apologized for not doing better.

The 26-year-old Kim, an All-Star with Arizona in 2002, will probably get a chance to become a closer again in Colorado's thin bullpen. But his fastball, once clocked in the 93-95 mph range, never got over 86 mph this spring.

''He is what he is right now. You're never going to get a B.K. Kim when he's good,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ''He's pitched big games. He's pitched big outs. He's on the downside now. His arm strength is increasing somewhat from the reports I've gotten. So that'd be the guy you'd want.''

The departure of Johnson, meanwhile, was expected. The four-time Gold Glove was not in Colorado's plans this season.

Kim, who blew two ninth-inning saves at Yankee Stadium in the 2001 World Series, went 2-1 with a 6.73 ERA for Boston last season and was at Triple-A Pawtucket from May 11 to Sept. 21.

''He was crying for a change of scenery,'' Epstein said.

In other trades, Pittsburgh acquired backup catcher David Ross from the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash, and Baltimore sent left-hander Matt Riley to Texas for outfielder Ramon Nivar.

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