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Cubs’ Wood to Get Opening Day Nod

February 28, 2004

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ Kerry Wood will start the Chicago Cubs opener in Cincinnati on April 5 and be followed by Greg Maddux and Mark Prior.

Manager Dusty Baker wants to use Maddux, the four-time Cy Young Award winner who re-signed with the Cubs this month, and his crafty assortment of pitches between his two young power pitchers Wood and Prior.

The rest of the rotation will be Matt Clement and Carlos Zambrano.

``I’m going with Prior after Maddux to give a different look, plus you know Prior can learn a lot from Maddux, I think,″ Baker said Saturday.

The way the rotation is set up means Maddux will not start a game during Chicago’s second series in Atlanta against the team he pitched for the last 11 years.

Instead, Maddux will be slated to go in the Cubs’ home opener April 12 against the Pirates.

It’ll be the second straight opening day assignment for Wood, who on Friday agreed to a three-year, $32.5 million contract.

``Like I said before, we’ve got _in my opinion _ five guys who could start opening day for a lot of teams,″ Wood said.

``We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to have a staff where it doesn’t really matter what the rotation is. Obviously, it’s an honor and all that. After the first one, you are matching up with different guys anyway.″

Wood reiterated that starters aren’t really that concerned when or where they pitch in the rotation.

``We don’t care. We really don’t,″ he said. ``Whatever day they tell us to go pitch, we want to go do it to the best of our ability, whether that’s the first game or the fifth one. I think that’s the way we all look at it.″

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