GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Cubs setup man Kerry Wood hasn’t pitched since March 18 and probably won’t pitch again until Thursday. But manager Dale Sveum insists there’s nothing physically wrong with the veteran right-hander.
‘‘We’re just easing him back into the season,” said Sveum, who acknowledged Wood had some back issues earlier in camp but that those aren’t causing this delay.Â ‘‘He had pitched already, and nothing spectacular with the back is going on. We’re just backing him off and making him ready for the season.
‘‘There’s no reason for any extra workloads. He’s feeling good and everything like that.”
Sveum said Wood has had no other physical problems this spring.
Wood, who was not available to speak Sunday, hasn’t walked a batter this spring and looked impressive in three of his four outings. But he hasn’t even thrown on the side since an inning against the White Sox on the 18th, Sveum said. He’s scheduled to throw on the side Monday.
Sveum said he plans to get Wood in two more games before the season starts.
Wood, 34, who made 55 appearances in 2011, was shut down with just over a week left in the season because of a meniscus tear in his left knee, which he had cleaned up arthroscopically over the winter.
Regardless of the reasons for the handle-with-care instructions, Wood’s situation underscores the already recognized need for a second setup man in the absence of Sean Marshall.
Rodrigo Lopez, the non-roster veteran fighting for a big-league job, went 41/3 innings Sunday in his final audition for what amounts to one rotation opening and one in long relief.
He gave up two hits, including a double, to his first three batters, leading to a pair of runs, but didn’t allow another run in the game. He’s 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA this spring but seems to be trailing Jeff Samardzija and Randy Wells for those last two spots.
‘‘I don’t want to give that any thoughts,” he said of the possibility of being sent to Class AAA Iowa. ‘‘My mind is in Chicago. This is not over yet. .â€‰.â€‰. I feel like I’ve been doing enough to make the team, and we’ll see what happens.”
Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster threw 88 pitches in a five-inning start on the minor-league side of camp, giving up six runs, eight hits and a walk (four strikeouts). He has one more tune-up start before the April 5 opener.
â€ Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine declined the Cubs’ outright assignment to Class AAA and took his release.
â€ Closer Carlos Marmol remains on track to pitch Monday in his first appearance since exiting with a hand cramp four batters into his appearance Thursday.