Wood likes what he sees in Cubs
Veteran reliever says 2008 squad is best he's been a part of
CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood says there's now a different feeling in the Cubs clubhouse, one that he has never felt since joining the organization.
"I'm not talking playoffs on June 1st, but I think we've got a solid team," Wood said. "We know what we're capable of doing. This is by far the best team I've been on."
The best? Remember, Wood started for the 1998 and 2003 playoff teams. But after just one-third of the season, this year's Cubs are exhibiting postseason potential. They lead the Majors with a 35-21 record and sit 2 1/2 games clear of second-place St. Louis in the National League Central. What separates the 2008 Cubs squad from those other playoff teams?
"I think it's more confident," Wood said. "We know what our offense is capable of doing here."
Take Friday's comeback, for example, when the Cubs battled back from eight runs down in a 10-9 classic over the Rockies. Wood remembered multiple teammates saying they still had a chance to win the game when trailing by eight runs. Now, that's confidence.
Mark DeRosa spent seven years with the Atlanta Braves. Unlike Wood, he has felt this way about a team before.
"When I was with Atlanta, some of those years, I was a utility player, a bench guy, I just saw the way those guys carried themselves," said DeRosa, whose two-run homer in the seventh finally put the Cubs ahead on Friday. "When [we] put on that jersey, we expected to take two of three, three of four. We expected it. If it didn't happen, it was confusing, [so] you just [moved] on to the next series. That's the way I feel it is here."
Lou Piniella has been quick to temper any undue hype. After all, it's only June 1, and the Cubs do have flaws, if you look closely.
"One thing that we've got to do is execute a little bit better," Piniella said. "That encompasses a lot of things. That encompasses getting some bunts down, executing on some hit-and-runs and playing good defense."
The Cubs also must improve on the road. They are 10-13 away from Wrigley Field and won't be at the Friendly Confines very much over the next month.
"After today, we've got 23 of our next 32 games on the road," Piniella said. "By that time, we'll get a pretty good gauge of where we're at."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.