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Wood in Cubs camp as mentor for young pitchers

(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. — Kerry Wood was back in Cubs camp Tuesday, this time as a spring training instructor.

"It was nice not having to run from field to field and doing all the drills," Wood said. "Obviously different, but nice to be back on the field and back in uniform and being around the guys again."

Manager Dale Sveum said Wood will bring his "knowledge and experience" for the younger pitchers.

"Sometimes a young player will listen to a Kerry Wood before a Dale Sveum," he said with a laugh. "It's just a presence, and to give him an opportunity to get on this side of the wall and see if he enjoys this part of it — front office, development … whatever it might be."

Wood spoke to some of the young pitchers about how to get prepared for the season. He's not ready to think about becoming a pitching coach in the future.

"I haven't looked that far ahead," he said. "Just being around here and learning the new faces and the younger guys who are going to be coming through the organization. I was pretty young when I came through it, so I think I have something to offer.

"Sometimes young players can be intimidated to go talk to a big league manager or pitching coach, so it's just another guy that's floating around they may be more comfortable talking with."

Samardzija watch: Jeff Samardzija turned down a five-year extension offer from the Cubs but thinks he will be with the organization a long time.

"I still haven't proven myself to where I want to be as a player," he said. "I was happy last year, but I don't want to stay there. I want to improve. The more I show them that, the more comfortable they'll be with getting a deal done.

"It's so far on the back (burner), it's not even an issue. The fact we have a common ground … it makes you feel good. Now it's just a little bantering back and forth."

Early birds: Position players don't have to arrive until Feb. 17, but several are already in camp, including David DeJesus, Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, Dave Sappelt and Nate Schierholtz, who signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal in free agency.

Schierholtz, expected to platoon in right field with Scott Hairston, turned down offers from some contenders.

"I felt like if I got the opportunity here to play, I could be here a lot longer," he said. "That was more appealing to me than going somewhere for a couple years and maybe not having the same opportunity."

Extra innings: A source said former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano might play in Japan or Taiwan if he doesn't get a major league contract. Zambrano is unsigned but is listed on Venezuela's World Baseball Classic roster. … With seven potential starters, the Cubs won't rush Scott Baker, who is returning from elbow reconstruction. "We're not going to put a timetable on it," Sveum said. "We're going to ease him on into things." … Sveum said Travis Wood could make the bullpen if he doesn't start. "I don't think it's one of those things where we say we need him to go develop as a starter," he said.

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