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Notes: No pressure on Wood
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06/06/2003  4:48 PM ET 
Notes: No pressure on Wood
Sosa honored in pre-game ceremony for 500th homer
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
Kerry Wood talks to reporters before Friday's game against the Yankees. (Brian Kersey/AP)
Baseball's Best: Yanks/Cubs in 1938 World Series
ACCESS BASEBALL:   MLB.com's Brian McRae talks to Kerry Wood
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CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood knows who everybody is coming to see on Saturday.

"No one is going to be coming to watch me pitch," the Cubs right-hander said. "I'm going to try to come out and do my job and let all the pressure be on him."

"Him" would be Roger Clemens, the Yankees right-hander who will be vying for his 300th career win on Saturday against Wood and the Cubs. Wood, by the way, is aiming for his 50th career win. It'll be Clemens' third attempt and Wood's seventh try.

"I'm sure after the game it'll be something I can look at," Wood said of the matchup. "I'm just trying to go out there and pitch against another lineup and just do my job."

Wood, who turns 26 on June 16, grew up idolizing another Texas right-hander, Nolan Ryan.

"I remember in the backyard playing catch and stuff, trying to throw like Nolan Ryan and do all that stuff," Wood said. "When it got to the point where I knew I was going to play baseball and knew I was going to pitch, it was still Nolan, but Roger was in the mix and a guy I enjoyed watching pitch."

Clemens needs just one win to tie Hall of Famers Lefty Grove and Early Wynn for 19th on the all-time list. He also is nine strikeouts shy of 4,000.

    Kerry Wood   /   P
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Cubs site

"It's going to happen regardless," Wood said of Clemens' milestones. "He's going for his 300th win, he's going for 4,000 strikeouts. You have to put that out of the way and not have it be part of the equation. That's a feat that he's going for and he's going for here in our stadium and that's something you have to overlook and go out and do your job."

Three pitchers -- Kid Nichols, Christy Mathewson and Warren Spahn -- have notched their 300th career win against the Cubs but none at Wrigley Field.

"Roger is going to win it sooner or later," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We'd just prefer it's not here. Nobody likes anybody to win anything on their own turf."

It's the perfect matchup, Wood said.

"Pitching in that series, why not pitch against him?" Wood said. "It'll be a lot of fun and good for the fans and should be a pretty exciting series."

The two don't share strikeout secrets or Texas bar-b-que recipes. Clemens called Wood after the Cubs right-hander's 20-strikeout game in May 1998 and they chatted during the Players Choice dinner. That's it.

"We don't talk a whole lot. We don't keep in touch," Wood said. "We have the same agent, but that's about as far as it goes."

What does Wood admire about the Rocket?

"Just his mound presence," Wood said. "Every time he steps on the field he has a chance to dominate a game. The mental approach he takes out to the mound every day.

"We all know about his work ethic and I think that says a lot. We know about Nolan Ryan's work ethic. Those two guys pitched very successfully. They've been around and pitched long enough and the work they've put in the offseason and between starts is a key to that."

Wood wouldn't mind being the next Texas right-hander to get 300 wins.

"Without a doubt," he said. "Anybody would love to play that long and love to be successful for that long. Realistically, can everybody do it? Probably not. That's why these guys are special and very different from everybody else."

New York, New York: Baker was looking forward to the Yankees series.

"It's a team I respect a lot," he said. "It's a team that you have to play your best game against. It seems like the better teams we play, the better we play."

This series could have an impact down the road.

"One thing for sure over the last 10, 12 years, is if you're going to the World Series, you have to go through New York," Baker said.

Resolution: Sammy Sosa was honored before Friday's game as Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., presented the Cubs right fielder with a copy of a U.S. House resolution congratulating him on his 500th home run.

    Sammy Sosa   /   RF
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 225
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Cubs site

Sosa was greeted by a mixture of cheers and boos from the Wrigley Field crowd when he accepted the document.

The House approved the resolution by a 372-0 vote on Monday. The next day, Sosa was caught using a corked bat in a game. On Friday, MLB issued an eight-game suspension, but Sosa appealed that and was in the lineup.

Gutierrez, who sponsored the House resolution, said he never considered canceling the event.

Aches and pains: Moises Alou was in the lineup although he has a sore leg that has been bothering him for about a week. "They're treating it," Baker said. "There's a wrong time for everything." ... Reliever Dave Veres was likely to throw a simulated game this weekend and if all goes well, could begin another rehab assignment early next week. He's been on the disabled list since April 15 with tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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