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Wood out for season
MRI shows ligament damage in pitcher's elbow
Posted: Wednesday March 17, 1999 09:10 AM
MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Kerry Wood is expected to miss the entire 1999 season because of an elbow injury, leaving the Chicago Cubs without the pitcher who dazzled baseball last season.
The NL Rookie of the Year, who last May struck out 20 batters against Houston, damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during his spring training debut against Anaheim on Saturday.
The Cubs said Tuesday more tests were needed on the 21-year-old right-hander to determine the extent of the injury. However, they assume he will need surgery and will not be able to pitch again until next year.
Wood was in Chicago for an MRI exam and those results were not expected until later today. But even before the MRI, the Cubs suspected the injury was season ending, sending a shudder through their clubhouse on a cold, rainy morning.
"I feel for him," reliever Rod Beck said. "I think as a pitcher every one of us has laid in bed with an ache and a pain thinking it's over."
Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times reports that Wood will need "Tommy John" surgery and will not be back on the mound until after the 2000 season.
Wood's sudden absence from the Cubs' 1999 plans has shaken a team trying to win its first pennant since 1945.
"Yesterday was a rough day," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said before Monday's 10-7 win over the Oakland Athletics. "We just crossed some fingers and hoped the news was not going to be bad."
Wood, the sensation who struck out a record-tying 20 against Houston last May in his fifth career start, missed all of last September because of a sore elbow, then returned for Game 3 of the division series against Atlanta.
He was hospitalized twice at the start of spring training for an upper respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, then threw just 10 of 26 pitches for strikes Saturday against Anaheim in his 1999 debut and wound up with elbow pain again that night.
Chicago had hoped the pain was from scar tissue, not ligament damage.
"He was real down yesterday, understandably so," Riggleman said Monday. "He's a young power pitcher, and I don't know a young power pitcher who hasn't gone through it."
Even though he has less than a year of major league service, Cubs players already look to Wood as a leader. Mark Grace compared him to Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown, calling him "almost irreplaceable."
"Kerry is one of those guys that can win even when he doesn't have his good stuff because of his reputation," Grace said.
"We just have to go out there and pick it up," Sammy Sosa said.
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