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Originally published July 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 23, 2007 at 9:08 PM

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Cubs' Wood making a "miracle" recovery

Seven pitches, seven strikes. A fastball that hit 95 mph. Kerry Wood had his best outing yet Thursday in his latest and most improbable...

The Associated Press

MESA, Ariz. — Seven pitches, seven strikes. A fastball that hit 95 mph.

Kerry Wood had his best outing yet Thursday in his latest and most improbable attempt to come back from injury.

"That's probably the best stuff I've had as far as velocity, location. A couple of breaking balls I threw were really good, too," he said after his inning of work for the Chicago Cubs' entry in the Arizona Rookie League.

The 30-year-old right-hander is pitching an inning every other day this week. He has one more start Saturday, then will fly to Chicago for his annual charity fund-raising bowling tournament Sunday.

During the visit, he will meet with Cubs officials to assess his next move, probably to a higher level of the minors to continue rehabilitation. Wood said he feels like he has turned the corner.

"I started throwing and waited to see what happened," Wood said. "It kept feeling better and better. So here we are in games and I'll hopefully get a few more innings and be ready to go."

Trainer Brett Fischer, who has worked with Wood for two years, said he would have bet his house a month ago that the pitcher would have to undergo surgery. In fact, Fischer said he had talked to the Cubs about the operation and asked for four more days of therapy.

Suddenly, the pain disappeared. Fischer said he has no idea why.

"I've been doing this 25 years and I've never seen a shoulder turn that fast," he said. "To me it was a miracle. This guy's shoulder really turned around in four days."

Wood was diagnosed a year ago with a partially torn rotator cuff. He chose not to have surgery. Instead, he attempted a comeback by rehabilitating the shoulder, strengthening the area around the tear.

Wood, who had made just 25 appearances the past two seasons, was moved to the bullpen. He has lost 48 pounds, Fischer said, because of diet and exercise. But persistent and increasing soreness this spring sent him back to the disabled list.

He didn't throw at all for four weeks.

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In the days leading up to the sudden improvement, Wood was throwing 45 mph with a lot of pain.

Still, he worked daily with Fischer.

Then came the unexpected.

"I left on Friday and felt awful," Wood said. "I came back on Monday and decided to throw a couple of more times and see what was going to happen. I went out and threw and felt great, came back and did it again Tuesday and felt better."

It's been a constant improvement from there.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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