Indians' Wood pitches batting practice

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood reported no problems with his aching back after pitching batting practice for the first time Wednesday, and the Cleveland Indians' new closer appears to be on track to start the season with the club.

Wood, who signed a two-year, $20.5 million contract with Cleveland in December, threw his fastball and slider, striking out Dave Dellucci and Andy Marte.

"It felt good to face hitters," Wood said.

The back began bothering Wood, who has a long history of arm problems, last week. He missed a couple of bullpen sessions, but threw off the mound Sunday. Wood is scheduled to pitch in his first game of the spring Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Wood saved 34 games for the Chicago Cubs last season.

The news on Adam Miller wasn't as promising.

The Indians' top prospect is still sidelined by soreness in he same right middle finger that required surgery last year, and he might not be ready when Cleveland breaks camp.

Miller hasn't thrown since Feb. 24 and cut off a scheduled outing three days later before throwing a pitch. Miller will be shut down another seven to 10 days, according to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff.

Soloff said an examination by a hand specialist showed inflammation in the finger. If Miller can resume throwing by the end of the 10-day period, Soloff thinks he will be able to make four to six appearances in games before the start of the regular season.

The Indians would like to see Miller win the last spot in the bullpen. He had surgery on May 27 to repair tendon damage then pitched pain-free in the Instructional League and winter ball.