Inside Pitch: Prior, Wood Making Progress

Wood hoping for late-April return

With Mark Prior and Kerry Wood opening the season on the disabled list for the second consecutive year, manager Dusty Baker was asked if he felt down on his luck.

"I never look at luck," Baker said. "I figure if you have bad luck, it's not going to last forever and you are due for some great luck.

"I wish I had them. I'm not going to say I don't. I certainly wish I had them. But if you keep wishing on what you don't have, all you have is a wish. You have to deal with what you have in front of you."

Prior and Wood are in Arizona rehabbing and making progress. Prior threw off the hill Friday for the first time since March 12 and could be back in May. Wood has been facing live hitters and could be ready for a minor league rehab assignment in a week or two.

REPLAY: The kids are all right. Cubs left fielder Matt Murton, 24, and shortstop Ronny Cedeno, 23, continued to shine for the Cubs as they improved to 2-1 with a 5-1 home-opening victory over St. Louis at Wrigley Field on Friday.

Cedeno stayed hot at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple and double to raise his average to .500. And while Murton was held hitless, he made a catch in windy left field off a Jim Edmonds fly and gunned a throw to first base to double up Juan Encarnacion.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Greg Maddux, who lost his first two season debuts the past two years since since returning to the Cubs, used the 25 mph wind blowing in to his advantage as he allowed one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings in the Cubs' 5-1 victory over St. Louis on Friday. Maddux challenged the Cardinals hitters, and some of their more impressive clouts resulted in harmless outs. "Some of them would have gone out on a normal day," Maddux admitted.

--RHP Bobby Howry threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings against St. Louis on Friday and struck out the side in the eighth inning. The Cubs picked up Howry and LHP Scott Eyre during the offseason to shore up the setup-relief situation, and in the early portion of the season the two have responded.

--SS Ronny Cedeno put a rough spring training behind him and has come of the regular season gates roaring. He was hitting .500 through three games and had a triple and double against St. Louis on Friday.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano gave up five walks in 4 2/3 innings on Opening Day, and although part of the reason might have been that the cold weather affected some of his pitches, manager Dusty Baker said Zambrano could have had too much adrenalin because it was Opening Day. Zambrano faces St. Louis on Saturday.

--2B Todd Walker was on the bench during Friday's home opener against St. Louis because manager Dusty Baker wanted a better defensive player at second base with groundball pitcher Greg Maddux was on the hill. Baker chose Neifi Perez for the job.

"My attitude hasn't changed," said Walker, who started the first two games. "It's going to take all 25 guys on this team to get this thing done. You don't want anyone on the bench getting stale. I feel pretty blessed to have played the first two games."

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 -- Players who showed up at Great American Ball Park on the off day April 4 for a voluntary workout.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I said, 'Hey, how are you doing, my name is Todd Walker. And he said, 'Hey, Tom, how are you?' I guess I didn't make too good of an impression." -- Cubs second baseman Todd Walker on meeting President Bush before the April 3 season opener in Cincinnati.

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