The Chicago Cubs are taking no chances with Kerry Wood.
The National League Rookie of the Year complained of discomfort in his right elbow after making his spring debut Saturday and the Cubs announced today that he will travel to Chicago for an MRI and additional tests on Monday.
"We're going to be cautious and send him back," Cubs general manager Ed Lynch said in a broadcast report. "The kid's down in the dumps but we'll see. At this point it would be silly to speculate (on any injury)."
Lynch said the team plans to compare the MRI to those taken when Wood was healthy. A prognosis on when Wood will return to the mound will be made after the tests conducted by team physician Dr. Michael Schafer.
"We'll have to wait and see what the problem is, if there is a problem," Lynch said. "We told him to be optimistic, but we don't know."
The Cubs have every reason to be cautious, since Wood missed the final five weeks of the 1998 season due to an injury to the same elbow. Earlier this month, the Cubs signed Wood to a one-year, $700,000 contract.
The 21-year-old Wood pitched 1 1/3 innings Saturday against the Anaheim Angels. He threw 26 pitches -- all fastballs -- and allowed three runs and three hits.
The elbow discomfort is yet another setback for Wood, who was hospitalized twice at the beginning of spring training due to persistent flu-like symptoms and an upper respiratory viral infection.
In addition to the sore elbow, Wood also suffered from a dead arm last June. He experienced asthmatic bronchitis and pneumonia over the winter.
After beginning the 1998 season in the minors, Wood burst on the scene May 6, setting an NL record and equaling Roger Clemens' major league mark by striking out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth major league start.
The Irving, Texas native went on to post a 13-6 record with a 3.40 ERA in a regular season that ended in August. He held opposing batters to a league-low .196 average and was third in strikeouts with 233 in just 166 2/3 innings, an average of 12.6 per nine innings.
Chicago's first Rookie of the Year since Jerome Walton in 1989, Wood pitched Game Three of the Division Series against Atlanta, allowing one run in five innings.
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