CLEVELAND: Kerry Wood finally has joined the Indians after missing the first 27 games of the season and most of spring training with a strained right lat muscle.
""We got good reports about him from Wednesday night,'' manager Manny Acta said. ""He had good command of his pitches, especially his fastball.''
Wood spent the early part of the week pitching for Akron on a rehabilitation assignment. Wednesday night, he worked one hitless inning, allowing only a walk. But in his first outing, Monday night, he failed to finish one inning after giving up four runs on six hits, retiring two batters.
Now that Wood is back, he wsill move directly into the closer role. The rest of the relief corps will be reshuffled.
The only thing for certain -- realizing that everything is subject to change -- is that Chris Perez, the closer in Wood's absence, will shift to the setup job.
Even in spring training, Acta did not have a precise pecking order besides naming Wood as closer and Perez as the man charged with holding leads in the eighth inning. The other bullpen members were expected to be promoted to the back end of the bullpen on the strength of their they performances.
That simple kind of meritocracy never has materialized. Acta is still waiting for one or two rerlievers to take advantage of the opportunity and pitch their way into a secure job as secondary setup man or to take ownership of the seventh inning.
Jensen Lewis was optioned to Columbus to make room for Wood on the roster. He was in the unenviable position of having options. According to Acta, other relievers either were out of options or were pitching well.