CHICAGO -- Michael Bowden grew up a Cubs fan, watching Ryne Sandberg, and when the Red Sox designated him for assignment, he started to imagine playing for his favorite team. Little did he know, Wrigley Field would become his new home.
Bowden was acquired Saturday night from the Red Sox for Marlon Byrd. The Cubs, who will pay a significant amount of Byrd's salary, will also receive a player to be named later. Bowden was in uniform at Wrigley on Monday.
"This past week has felt like forever," Bowden said. "Every single day since the day I was taken off [the roster], I was waiting for a phone call. Just the anticipation of that and then further in the week, I saw some articles and speculation of Marlon Byrd going to the Red Sox and I got my hopes up, and talking to my wife, I was just pretending. When we got the call, it was an awesome feeling."
Bowden grew up in suburban Aurora and now lives in Oswego, which is a one-hour commute. It's a lot shorter than the drive he made from Boston to Chicago after the Red Sox designated him on April 15. He appeared in three games with Boston. Did he feel he had a fair shot?
"That's a tough question to answer," Bowden said. "I never really got a level of comfort over there. I'd go up there and I didn't know really what they wanted out of me and they threw me in a lot of different roles. I'm very grateful for it. It made me a very versatile pitcher. Now, throw anything at me, and I feel I'm prepared to tackle that. I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me over there. I'm excited to start my career over here."
He's been working out, throwing against a wall, and he recently threw a bullpen session to a friend. Cubs manager Dale Sveum watched video of Bowden throwing three straight fastballs to Toronto's Jose Bautista, so Bowden obviously has no fear. The right-hander also is resilient.
"He's unorthodox," Sveum said. "He's got a completely different motion and release point than most pitchers. He can get it to 94 mph. He can get swings and misses up in the zone. I think the split-finger will help him a lot."
It helps that Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer know Bowden from their Red Sox days. Bowden said he was crossing his fingers that he'd wind up with them again. When he did get the call, it was tough to hide his enthusiasm.
"I think it was the most exciting time in my career, right up there with my debut and getting drafted," he said. "This is a dream come true and I'm very blessed and extremely excited."
Wood progresses, but may need rehab stint
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue, was expected to start throwing off the mound soon.
"He feels a lot better," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday of Wood, who was placed on the disabled list Friday, retroactive to April 14. "We'll get him off the mound here pretty quick and see how that goes. He's making a lot of improvement and says he feels great."
Wood, who last pitched April 13, received a cortisone shot in his shoulder on Wednesday. He may need some game action in the Minor Leagues, Sveum said.
"There's a chance we might," Sveum said about a rehab assignment. "It only helps us and helps him, too. It's different when you get out on that mound. We don't want to activate somebody and then we're right back to where we were."
Rodrigo Lopez was designated for assignment Monday to make room on the Cubs' 25-man roster for reliever Michael Bowden, acquired from the Red Sox in the Marlon Byrd deal.
"If he clears waivers and everything, we want him to be in the rotation down in Triple-A," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Lopez, who had appeared in four games with the Cubs and compiled a 5.68 ERA. "Hopefully, that happens and hopefully, he elects to go down there as well."
Jeff Baker was hitless in three at-bats against lefty Jaime Garcia on Monday, getting the start in a 3-2 Cubs win instead of left-handed-hitting Bryan LaHair.
"Right now, I'd like to see better at-bats [by LaHair] against left-handers," Sveum said. "He's obviously swung the bat great against right-handed pitchers, but Spring Training through now, we've talked about some things to try to adjust his approach against left-handed pitching."
Fittingly, it was a great at-bat by LaHair that keyed the Cubs' win, as he walked on 12 pitches against Cards closer Jason Motte. Joe Mather followed two batters later with a walk-off hit.
So far this season, LaHair is 0-for-6 against left-handed pitchers and batting .433 (13-for-30) against right-handers. Baker has a career .310 average against lefties and is batting .237 against right-handed pitchers.
Starlin Castro had no problems with his left elbow after he was hit by a pitch on Sunday by the Reds Sean Marshall.
"He slept on his right elbow," Sveum joked. "He's fine. He took a pretty good shot. Thank God, it didn't hit him square in the bone. He came up and had a great at-bat off Marshall. He's doing fine today."
Castro has reached base safely in 56 of his last 57 games dating back to last Aug. 15.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.