RiverHawks add big-league arm to pitching staff
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March 11, 2010 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks will have major-league talent at the top of the starting rotation this year.

Rockford’s only professional baseball team announced on Thursday that it has signed Mike Wood, a five-year big-league veteran. The right-hander pitched in the majors for the Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.

“To get a guy who has pitched as many years as he has in the big leagues is a real plus for us,” RiverHawks co-owner and director of baseball operations Dave Ciarrachi said. “We’re looking for him to come here and head up our pitching staff.”

Ciarrachi will be able to choose his five-man rotation from among Wood; Kyle Wright and Brett Durand, who last season became the first pair of pitchers in RiverHawks history to win 10 games each in the same year; Justin Knoff, Roger Lincoln and Kyle Ruwe, who had strong seasons with Sussex in the independent Can-Am League last year; and Adam Rowe, a three-time 10-game winner. Each has had a career distinguished by low walk totals.

Wood is the second former major-leaguer signed by Rockford this winter. Eight-year veteran Randall Simon, a former Chicago Cub, signed in January.

Wood said this was the first time in his career he didn’t have at least a spring-training invitation from a major-league organization.

“It’s new to me (in) 10 years playing ball, but I’m excited to be with a team again,” he said. “I’m going to give it all I’ve got for this team.”

Wood was the A’s 10th-round pick out of the University of North Florida in 2001. He was traded to the Royals in June 2004 as part of the three-team deal that sent Carlos Beltran to Houston, Octavio Dotel to Oakland and Mark Teahan and John Buck to Kansas City. Wood, who made his major-league debut with Oakland in 2003, was a rotation regular with the Royals for two years after the deal.

“This is every possibility that if he throws well for us, he could sign a major-league contract and move right back up,” Ciarrachi said.

The Rangers picked Wood up off waivers following the 2006 season and used him primarily out of the bullpen the next year. In 115 major-league appearances, Wood is 16-22 with a 5.49 earned-run average and two saves.

Wood has never pitched in a North American independent league. He spent 2008 in Japan’s Central League with the Yokohama BayStars, where he was 3-12 with a 4.69 ERA in 26 starts. Wood was back in Triple-A last year. In 10 combined appearances with Florida’s New Orleans affiliate and the Rangers’ Oklahoma City farm club, both in the Pacific Coast League, Wood was 0-2 with a 9.49 ERA and one save.

Wood has earned at least 10 wins in four of his nine professional seasons. In 104 minor-league appearances, Wood is 49-22 with a 3.41 ERA and a save. In 1,039 2/3 total innings among the majors, minors and Japan, he has walked just 306 batters and struck out 656.

“I just like to work fast, keep the ball down and let my defense do the work,” Wood said.

Wood is the third player in RiverHawks history with prior big-league experience. Scott Sobkowiak, who pitched for the RiverHawks in 2003-04, appeared in one game with the Atlanta Braves in 2001.

The RiverHawks are members of the Northern League, an eight-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 18th season in 2010. The RiverHawks’ ninth season begins at 7:05 p.m. May 20 against the Schaumburg Flyers at Road Ranger Stadium. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Games are broadcast live on ESPN 1380 (WTJK-AM) and on ESPN1380.com. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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