Cubs pitcher Travis Wood explained his situation after Sunday's 7-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field.
"It's definitely been a learning year," the 25-year-old Wood said after working 5 innings and getting no decision, as he gave up 7 hits and 4 runs, 2 earned.
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Wood's record held at 4-11, and his ERA dropped from 4.71 to 4.64.
The Cubs obtained Wood from the Reds last December in the trade that sent reliever Sean Marshall to Cincinnati.
Wood didn't make the rotation out of spring training, but he has pitched creditably on many days since coming up.
"He's obviously positioned as probably one of our starters, no question," manager Dale Sveum said. "The strides he's made to learn how to pitch completely different than he ever has, I think, has been able to make him survive and have some really good games and understand that he can pitch to his arm side.
"He can backdoor his slider. He can backdoor his cutter. He still needs to use and find some off-speed stuff to be able to nullify some lineups that might struggle with his changeup or even struggle with straight curveballs, to understand all that stuff.
"But he's coming, and it's been an adjustment, but I think he's done a pretty good job of it, too."
Wood agreed with his manager's assessment.
"Absolutely," he said. "I've always been a guy who just, 'Here it is, I'm going to attack you and pound you with the fastball and cutter, and whatever happens, happens.'
"But I've learned how to use my other pitches and use both sides of the plate."
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano hit his 25th homer in the Cubs' 4-run fifth inning. He now has four seasons of at least 25 homers as a Cub, making him the 10th player to do that.
"Just working hard to be a consistent player, and that's what I do," he said. "I know what I do, working hard every day to be consistent."
Soriano's defense has been much improved. He leapt at the wall and crashed into it to rob Giants pitcher Matt Cain of extra bases in the fourth inning.
"Surprised," he said. "I caught it, and I hit the wall and said, 'Oh, what am I doing?' because that wall is very hard. Thank God. I hit the wall, but I made the catch. That made me feel much better."
No Marmol aid:
Closer Carlos Marmol got the loss, giving up 2 runs in the ninth inning as the Giants broke a 5-5 tie. Marmol allowed 2 hits and 2 walks.
It was a non-save situation, but he has been perfect in his last 16 save chances.
"It's a bad day," Marmol said. "You're not going to be perfect all year long. Hitters need to eat, too."