CHICAGO – Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood knows his No. 1 job is shutting down opposing batters.
Still, the left-hander takes pride in hitting and isn’t a prototypical pitcher that struggles to make contact. Wood went 1 for 3 in the Cubs’ 3-0 win Sunday against the Houston Astros and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning after a leadoff double. Wood, who also picked up the win, is hitting .333 this season with three doubles and two runs scored.
“I love hitting and being on the bases,” Wood said. “Since it’s part of the game, I feel like I try to be as good as you can. You’re just helping yourself out there.”
Manager Dale Sveum tries to avoid having Wood, a right-handed hitter, bunt because, unlike most pitchers, he’s so handy with a bat.
“He’s actually an offensive asset when he’s up there, so to just give them an out when he’s up there, I have a hard time [having Wood bunt], especially against a left-handed pitcher that can get a fastball early in the count,” Sveum said.
Soriano given breather: Outfielder Alfonso Soriano, bum knee and all, avoids sitting out games as much as he can.
But with more hot temperatures expected when the Cubs travel to Atlanta for a four-game series that begins today, Sveum decided Soriano needed a break. Sunday marked the sixth game Soriano has sat out this season.
“A combinatiwon of how hot the weather has been and how hot it’s going to be in Atlanta,” Sveum said. “I thought after a couple of day games, get our other right-handers some extra at-bats, and it’s a perfect day to get a day off going into some more 90- to 95-degree weather in Atlanta.”
Soriano’s numbers against Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez contributed to Sveum’s decision. He has a .105 career average (4 for 38) against the left hander.
Rizzo’s adjustments: Three game-winning hits in Anthony Rizzo’s first five games is certainly a great way to start his Cubs career.
Part of that is a result of Rizzo’s work to correct flaws in his swing, corrections he began making in his first spring training with the Cubs.
“I saw a guy in spring training that competed, asked a lot of questions and wanted to get better … and did,” Sveum said. “He obviously made huge adjustments in his swing to play at the level.”