Kerry Wood arrived in the Yankee clubhouse around 10:25 this morning showing no outward signs of the travel odyssey that took him from Toronto, where the Indians were playing Saturday, back home to Cleveland to pick up some clothes, and finally to Tampa, where he finally got the team hotel about 4 a.m.
"I was really caught off guard,'' he said of the trade deadline deal that was completed just before the 4 p.m. cutoff time. "I got up to get ready to pitch the seventh and then they told me to sit back down again, so I figured something was going on. They told me after the game and my head's been spinning ever since.''
Having pitched to Joe Girardi who was the Cubs' catcher back in the days when the 33-year-old Wood was a 21-year-old starting pitcher, will help him adjust. "Definitely, playing with Joe and knowing him and having that relationship helps,'' said Wood, who has not pitched since July 11, having just come off the DL with a blister on his right index finger. In his 12 year career, Wood has made 14 trips to the DL, two of them this season, beginning in spring training when he strained a muscle in his back.
Still, Girardi thinks Wood is not that far removed from the fireballer who struck 20 batters when he was 20 years old. "He doesn;t quite have the same velocity as when I caught him, he might have lost a few miles per hour,'' Girardi said. "But he'll still get up to 96 and he still has th ebig breaking ball. He's still a power arm.''
Girardi said Wood was available to pitch today if necessary. "He's probably a one-inning guy but I might ask him for four or five outs if we need them.''