News and Notes: Kerry Wood's Out

There's been some injuries to players who had chances of making the club (Jordan Brown, Jeremy Sowers, Jason Grilli), but until today, the only Opening Day player ticketed for the DL was Russell Branyan and his balky back, and that hasn't come as much of a surprise. So I guess Kerry Wood missing 6-8 weeks with strained back muscle is the first injury that's going to adversely affect the Opening Day roster. The Indians were going with Brantley in left field before they signed Branyan, but Wood's injury is going to lead to bullpen configurations that you'd hope you wouldn't see until much later in the season. I think Chris Perez is going to be fine in the ninth, but the relievers now elevated into more important roles (Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Rafael Perez) I'm a lot less confident about. There's going to be a lot of games early this season where the bullpen will have to throw four or five innings, and with Wood's injury, pulling off that feat is going to be a lot more difficult.

In a perverse piece of good news, Wood missing this much time just about a guarantees that his 2011 option won't be triggered, which will also mean clubs will be more interested in him at the deadline. A lot of teams could use Kerry Wood over a couple months, but the specter of the option triggering would have kept Wood an Indian through the end of the season.

Wood's injury could also mean that the loser of the starter battle starts the season in the bullpen, which also means that the Indians could keep Mitch Talbot without placing him in the rotation. I think placing a starter in the bullpen would have made sense before Wood's injury, but now, having a pitcher or two who can pitch 3-4 innings if needed seems a necessity.

At least the offense is looking good. Travis Hafner blasted a home run in yesterday's 12-4 win over Oakland, but perhaps more encouraging (if one can be encouraged by a Spring Training line) was Jhonny Peralta's 3-for-3. This is a huge season for Jhonny on two fronts: he's going to have to show the Indians (and everyone else in baseball) that he can play third base, and also hit enough to either make for any defensive deficiencies or meet the offensive requirements that come with playing the position. It's looking more and more possible that Lonnie Chisenhall is the Indians' 2011 third baseman, and if that's true Jhonny's option next year will have to picked up by somebody else.

Today's Game:

Cleveland at Los Angeles, 4:05 PM

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