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03/10/09 7:30 PM ET
Wood throws perfect inning in debut
New Indians closer sets down three Angels with nine pitches
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Three up, three down, and, just like that, closer Kerry Wood's tenure with the Tribe began with an outing the Indians hope to see a lot of this season and beyond.
Wood, signed to a two-year, $20.5 million contract over the winter, set down the Angels' Howie Kendrick, Juan Rivera and Brandon Wood in order in the fourth inning on Tuesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, giving him an efficient and effective Cactus League debut. He used just nine pitches.
"Everything felt good," said Wood, who had experienced some minor back soreness last month and had his spring timetable pushed back a tad. "It's nice to get a different uniform in the box and pitch in front of a crowd. It wasn't a huge crowd, but it's better than seven coaches standing there watching you throw a bullpen."
In his side bullpen sessions, Wood has shown early command of his fastball and a nasty bite on his breaking ball. This outing, however, went too quickly for him to use his slider quite as much as he'd like.
"I only threw two or three sliders," he said.
But Wood, despite the early setback, still expects to get about 12-14 spring innings under his belt before Opening Day, and that should allow him plenty of time to work on his pitches and build up his strength. He will likely be used on back-to-back days and in multiple innings by the end of camp.
When it comes to multiple innings, Wood hopes he doesn't need to rely on that endurance during the season.
"If I go more than one inning," he said, "it usually means I gave [the lead] up."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.