Wood's Return

Kerry Wood returned to the mound on Thursday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery last Aug. 31 and the oft-injured pitcher gave up four runs in five innings in a loss to Washington.

But what about his long-term future?

Wood has a mutual option for 2007 that would pay him $13.5 million with a $3 million buyout.

"I probably won't think about it until the season is over," Wood said. "But I absolutely would love to stay here."

Since he's been injured numerous times the past three seasons, it's doubtful the team will pick up the option at $13.5 million, but it's possible the two sides could come to an agreement at a lower price.

REPLAY: Wood's return was spoiled when he gave up three home runs in a 5-3 loss to Washington on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had a shot at winning the game in the bottom of the ninth, but with runners at first and third, Neifi Perez tried an unsuccessful bunt. Matt Murton went 3-for-5 to bump his average up to .278.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Kerry Wood allowed three home runs in his first game back from last year's shoulder injury on Thursday. While his fastball was clocked at 91-93 mph, manager Dusty Baker is confident that the velocity will increase with more work.

--3B Aramis Ramirez missed a start on Thursday because of a strained lower back. He was able to pinch hit and had an RBI single against Washington. The Cubs hope he can return Friday to open the White Sox series.

--RHP Jae-Kuk Ryu was sent back to Triple-A Iowa on Thursday to make room for RHP Kerry Wood, who came off the disabled list. Ryu made a relief appearance for the Cubs on Sunday. He will likely return to the starting rotation for Iowa.

--IF Tony Womack inked a minor league deal and will report to Triple-A Iowa. Womack was with the Cubs toward the end of the 2003 campaign, but was hampered by an elbow injury. He opened the season with Cincinnati.

--RHP Mark Prior (shoulder injury) is slated to throw 40-45 pitches against Rookie League hitters Friday at extended spring training in Arizona. He may pitch another Rookie League game next Wednesday before heading out to a minor league rehab assignment.

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Kerry Wood returned to the mound on Thursday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery…

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