I often wonder what it’s like for 19- and 20- and 21-year-old minor leaguers to encounter the big boys as they're hopscotching through the bushes on rehab assignments.

Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter was on hand today for a case in point:

The latest outing in Kerry Wood’s ongoing rehab, a one-inning stint for the Cubs’ Arizona League team against the Royals’ AZL club.

According to AZ Phil, Wood only needed to throw seven pitches to get through a scoreless inning, all of his pitches were strikes, and Woody’s velocity reached 95 mph.

The only hit against him was a scratch infield hit by 17-year-old Fernando Cruz, a 6-foot-1, switch-hitting shortstop from Puerto Rico who KC drafted last month.

In his first 67 plate appearances as a professional baseball player this summer, Cruz, who the Royals say has a strong arm and “plus power,” is hitting .148 with 1 extra-base hit and no walks.

Will Cruz ever play on the manicured infield of Royals Stadium or any other Major League park for that matter? The odds are against him and not just because of the .148 start.

But even if Fernando Cruz never makes it to the Major Leagues, he’ll be able to say something that 99.999999999% of the baseball-playing universe never will:

That he once got a hit off of Kerry Wood.

And that’s not bad. Not bad at all.

As for the non-rehabbing Cubs today…

I’m glad Barry Bonds left town without tying Henry Aaron, and this is not an anti-Bonds or anti-steroid harangue. (Wait a minute—Anti Harangue. Doesn’t he pitch for Cincinnati?)

It’s just that between Mark McGwire’s 62nd and Sammy Sosa’s 600th, I’ve had enough of seeing the Cubs and their poor mope pitchers being turned into answers to sports trivia questions that will probably be asked for next 500 years.

Let the guy who serves up #755 and/or #756 be named Jeff Suppan or David Bush or Claudio Vargas or anybody not wearing the blue pinstripes.

AP Photo/Matt York


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