CHICAGO -- The Cubs' offense has struggled in the early season, scoring just 3.5 runs per game to rank 12th in the National League. It's a malady manager Dale Sveum says a little pop could remedy.
After starting their recent road trip with a 9-5 win at St. Louis, the Cubs dropped the last five games of the voyage, scoring no more than three runs in any of the defeats. Chicago has hit just five homers on the season heading into Friday's game, last in the Majors.
"The record is what bothers you," Sveum said. "Being out of a couple games in St. Louis. Not swinging the bats after the first game in St. Louis with runners in scoring position. Driving the ball. Slugging percentage. We need to drive the ball out of the ballpark to score some runs."
The Cubs rank 14th in the NL, with a .328 slugging percentage and just 17 doubles in 13 games. Sveum says it's not just a problem of getting into hitter's counts, but also taking advantage of those counts when they arise.
"We're a pretty aggressive team," Sveum said. "We're not taking advantage of those situations. If we're going to swing early in the count, that's when slugging percentage happens, is early in the count. We need to get better pitches to hit early in the count if we're going to swing early.
"When we're in fastball counts, [we have] to take advantage of those. Drive the ball to the middle of the field. We did a little bit of that [in Miami]. We were a little victim of that huge ballpark, too, with their center fielder playing as deep as he did."
Wood placed on DL with right shoulder fatigue
CHICAGO -- The Cubs placed reliever Kerry Wood on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with right shoulder fatigue.
Wood hasn't pitched since April 13, and he received a cortisone shot in his shoulder on Wednesday. He was slated to be the Cubs' primary setup man to closer Carlos Marmol this season but had thrown just 2 1/3 innings over four appearances and has an 11.57 ERA.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum says the injections seem to have helped, but the club is trying to be cautious with Wood to prevent the shoulder problems from lingering through the season.
"We just felt, to be safe, [it would be better] to get him completely ready to go instead of waiting a couple of days to see how things were going," Sveum said.
"Part of the reason we wanted to DL him is because we don't want this to carry on. We want him to get strong for the rest of the season."
The move is retroactive to Wood's last appearance, which means he could return to active duty as soon as April 28.
To replace Wood on the roster, the Cubs recalled lefty Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa. Maine was 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his five Minor League appearances. His arrival gives the Cubs a second lefty in the bullpen to go with James Russell, though prior to the game, Maine was not sure how he'd be used.
"I'm just expecting whatever they want," Maine said. "I'll be ready. One inning, two innings, five innings -- whatever."
Coincidentally, Wood's close friend and former teammate Sean Marshall, now the Reds' closer, was in Chicago for the weekend series between the Cubs and Reds. Speaking from the Cincinnati dugout before the game, Marshall said it's disappointing to see Wood having physical problems.
"I hate to see Woody hurt," Marshall said. "He's a great person. I played catch with him, really, all winter this year. I know he was feeling good when I was playing catch with him. Tough to see him have a setback."
Quad strain jeopardizing Dempster's next start
CHICAGO -- Cubs starter Ryan Dempster is questionable for his start on Sunday because of a right quad strain.
Dempster underwent an MRI on Friday, though the results were unclear prior to the game. As a precaution, right-hander Randy Wells was brought to Chicago from Triple-A Iowa and will take Dempster's turn in the rotation if he is unable to pitch.
"We'll probably find out more tomorrow," manager Dale Sveum said after Friday's 9-4 loss to the Reds. "We'll probably make a decision later tomorrow afternoon."
Dempster is off to a fast start, though the lack of run support has left him with an 0-1 record. He has a 1.33 ERA in three outings and has struck out a National League-high 23 batters.
Wells was a late cut in Spring Training after spending the last three seasons as a member of the Cubs' rotation. He's 27-30 with a 4.05 ERA over that span.
Wells was 1-0 for Iowa, but he had a 9.42 ERA over three outings.
Marshall makes return to Wrigley as opponent
CHICAGO -- After six seasons as a Wrigley Field fan favorite, Reds reliever Sean Marshall made his first trip to the venerable ballpark as a visiting player on Friday.
Marshall, a key component of the Cubs' bullpen the last couple of years, was dealt to Cincinnati in the offseason for a package of prospects, including Travis Wood, Ronald Torreyes and Dave Sappelt.
One of the first things Marshall noticed was the cozier confines of Wrigley Field's visiting clubhouse, which is smaller than many high school locker rooms.
"It's definitely smaller over here," Marshall said. "First time I've been on the visiting side. It's still nice."
A roomier home park has been one of the perks of joining the Reds.
"Amenities-wise, it's a little different," Marshall said. "It's pretty nice to have a big locker room and a nice weight room. It's stuff I didn't get a chance to experience during my time over here."
After spending his first nine professional seasons with the Cubs organization, Marshall is still getting used to the change. It has helped that the Reds are guided by Dusty Baker, who was Marshall's first manager when he broke in with the Cubs.
"There are some coaches here that were here when I first [came up] and gave me a chance," Marshall said. "I'll always be grateful for that. Dusty has been good. As a player's manager, he treats his guys really good, just like he did here."
While Marshall picked up occasional save opportunities during his time in Chicago, he's taken over as the Reds' full-time closer in the wake of the season-ending injury to Ryan Madson. His numbers have remained strong in the role, as he's converted both of his save chances and posted a 2.08 ERA over 4 1/3 innings.
"Closing is good," Marshall said. "I've only had a couple of chances so far. It's been fun. It's the same game. I still have to make my pitches. There is a little bit more crowd energy, but I've always been comfortable whether or not how many people are watching."
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.