Kerry Wood has left the Cubs in Miami and flown back to Chicago to undergo a cortisone injection in his sore right shoulder.
For now the Cubs are telling reporters that they expect Wood to avoid the disabled list and be available out of the bullpen as soon as Friday, when they return home to play the Reds, but obviously the need for a cortisone shot midway through the first month of the season is a pretty big red flag for the 34-year-old reliever.
Wood has been used sparingly so far, but bounced back from an ugly outing against the Nationals on April 7 to strike out the side on April 11 and retire the only batter he faced on April 13.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.