NOTES: Kerry Wood made a couple of important decisions.
The Cubs pitcher said that he would not have surgery performed to fix a partially torn rotator cuff. And he will come back next year as a reliever. Though he has resisted a career in the bullpen, he said it would be the best decision to work as a reliever and hopes to return to starting down the line.
But his future with the Cubs is in question.
Wood is in the final year of a deal. The Cubs own a $13.5 million option for 2007, and they will likely buy it out for $3 million. Wood can either become a free agent or re-sign with the Cubs for an incentive-laden deal.
"I haven't thought about it," Wood said. "I have to sit down and talk with (Cubs general manager) Jim (Hendry). They will make the best decision for the organization, and I'm going to make the best decision for me and my family.
"Obviously I love to be here. Hopefully that's the case. But we haven't gotten close to that talk yet."
Carlos Zambrano looks to win his seventh straight start as he leads the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series with the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Friday.
Zambrano (12-3, 3.26 ERA), has won nine straight decisions.He hasn't lost since May 31 against the Reds. He is also batting .266 with two home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored during his winning streak.
Tom Gorzelanny (1-2, 5.84) will get the start for Pittsburgh (41-68), which has won six of eight.
The left-hander earned his first major league win in his last start, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings of a 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. This will be Gorzelanny's first start against the Cubs.
Despite reports that he may exercise an out in his contract after this season, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez sounds like a man who plans on staying awhile.
Ramirez is in the second year of a four-year, $42 million contract but can option out of it after this season.
The third baseman struggled in April and May, and that was critical for a team that lost its top power source -- Derrek Lee -- to a wrist injury.
Ramirez heated up recently and is on pace for 38 homers and 110 RBIs. He could start a bidding war if he tests the free agent market.
Right now, it appears he wants to stay.
"I signed for four years here and I do have the option to be a free agent, but I just want to play this season and see what happens," Ramirez said. "I want to stay here. I have a home here. (General manager Jim Hendry) and I get along pretty well. If anything is going to happen, I'll let him know. My family likes it here. I like it here. And we have what it takes to be pretty good next year."
REPLAY: The Cubs sent a pair of rookies on the mound to start in Thursday's doubleheader.
Carlos Marmol gave up five runs in the first inning of the opener, and the Cubs went on to lose 10-2. The Cubs had as many hits at the Diamondbacks (10) but left 13 runners on base.
Things looked a little more promising in the nightcap for Juan Mateo, who made his major league debut. Mateo was given a 3-0 lead by the offense in the first inning, and he went on to win 7-3. Matt Murton, who had five RBIs in May and June, had a career-high five RBIs in the nightcap to help Mateo pick up the win. Murton also tied a major league record with four doubles.
--RHP Carlos Marmol gave up five runs in the first inning of Thursday's first game of a doubleheader against Arizona but settled down and gave up just two runs in his next four innings. "He's always had trouble going out there -- he's a little too hyped up," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He talked with Pedro Martinez and some other guys about it. Just don't go out there too over-amped. That was a big deficit in a short amount of time. We have to figure out a way to keep him calm when he leaves the bullpen."
--LHP Glendon Rusch, who has surrendered 21 homers in 61 2/3 innings as a starter and long reliever, is back on the disabled list with tennis elbow. Earlier in the season, he went on the disabled list with back spasms.
--RHP David Aardsma was brought up from Triple-A Iowa and will serve as a middle and long reliever. Aardsma, who throws in the high 90s and is working on sharpening a second pitch, is on the parent squad for the fourth time this season. He threw a scoreless inning in the first game Thursday, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
--RHP Angel Guzman pitched one inning in a start for Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday night and is on standby in case the Cubs need a reliever Friday after playing a Thursday doubleheader.
--INF Ronny Cedeno will make his first start at second base Friday. Cedeno played 98 games at shortstop this year but will move to second because the Cubs obtained Cesar Izturis in a deal with the Dodgers for RHP Greg Maddux on Monday. Cedeno he has yet to start at second because manager Dusty Baker wanted him to work on footwork and double plays before games.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Times the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs in their first 93 games in 2006. 4 -- Times the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs in their next eight games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He needs to pretend he's in the minor leagues -- sometimes you have to trick yourself." -- Manager Dusty Baker on rookie Rich Hill, who has been phenomenal at the Triple-A level but struggled in the big leagues.
RHP Wade Miller (shoulder surgery) has been on the disabled list since spring training. He struggled in a rehab appearance for Class A Peoria on July 3, and he was shut down. He made his next rehab start for Peoria on July 31.
RHP Kerry Wood (shoulder and knee surgery) went on the disabled list retroactive to June 7. His season ended July 7 when an MRI showed a partial tear in his rotator cuff. He has opted not to have surgery, and he hopes to be ready for spring training.
OF Freddie Bynum (blood clot, right shoulder) went on the disabled list June 25. On July 26, the team reported he was close to resuming baseball activities.
LHP Sean Marshall (strained left oblique muscle) went on the disabled list July 23.
1B Derrek Lee (right wrist inflammation) went on the disabled list July 24. He had been sidelined April 20-June 24 with a broken right wrist. He intends to return to action this season.
LHP Glendon Rusch (tennis elbow) went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1.