Saturday, March 20, 2010

No Wood? Not good

Well that didn't take long. The Indians have already suffered their first major injury of the 2010 season - two weeks before the start of the 2010 season. Closer Kerry Wood, who the Indians were counting on to get the last three outs in games they are winning, will miss from six to eight weeks with a strained muscle in his upper back.

That Wood is injured isn't really news. This will be the 13th trip onto the disabled list for Wood in his 11-year major league career. Wood will begin the season on the DL, meaning the Indians will play the first four to six weeks of the season without their $20 million closer. But it's not like the Indians figured to wear out Wood in those first six weeks. Last year, Wood had six saves in the first six weeks of the sesaon.

So the loss of Wood is unfortunate, but not exactly crippling.

On the other hand, there is nothing more devastating to a team than blown saves leading to ninth-inning losses. So the Indians may be in danger of having some of those while Wood is out. But the injury to Wood will give the Indians a chance to look at Chris Perez in the closer's role.

Perez is the projected closer of the future for the Indians, a future that could start sometime this season, should Wood be traded, or next year for sure, since the Indians won't re-sign Wood, should he not be traded or fails to finish the 55 games that would automatically vest his option for 2011.

So while Wood is out it's a chance to see how Perez handles the closer's role. And it also means a reliever who otherwise wouldn't have been on the opening day roster, will open the season with the Indians. That will give the Indians a chance to further evaluate another pitcher early in the 2010 season.

The bottom line: if the Indians had been projected to be contenders in 2010, the injury to Wood would have been a bigger deal than it is now. As it is, with the Indians not expected to contend, it's unlikely that a blown save or two in April, due to the absence of Wood, will come back and haunt the Indians in September.


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