CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Cubs are close to getting two of their biggest stars back.

Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra are expected to return from the disabled list Friday in New York for a series against the Mets, general manager Jim Hendry said Saturday. Reliever Scott Williamson also could be activated Friday.

“It looks like, without snags this week, we’re going to activate all three of them on the same day, which would be very refreshing,” Hendry said.

The additions of Wood and Williamson will bolster the Cubs’ bullpen as they try to make a run at the NL wild card. Wood will pitch in relief for the first time in his career, hoping it will allow him to keep pitching despite shoulder problems.

“Everybody wants a hitter this time of year, everybody wants another pen guy this time of year,” Hendry said. “We may be adding two outstanding pen guys in the club in the same week.”

Wood has been sidelined the shortest of the three, going on the DL on July 21. Hampered by right shoulder inflammation, Wood will work out of the bullpen with Class-A Peoria, throwing one inning in Fort Wayne on Sunday and two in Peoria on Tuesday. The Cubs expect him to be able to pitch two days in a row when he returns.

Garciaparra went on the 60-day DL on April 21 with a left groin tear and is continuing his rehab assignment with Double-A West Tenn. He has played four games total for the Cubs’ Arizona rookie team and Peoria and is expected to play four more games before being activated.

Williamson threw two innings for Triple-A Iowa on Friday, giving up two runs and three hits in two innings, and is expected to pitch again on Monday and Tuesday. Williamson, a right-handed reliever, had elbow ligament replacement surgery last October and signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in January.

All three will join the team in Philadelphia before getting activated in New York, Hendry said. Even if the Cubs don’t make any more deals before Sunday’s non-waiver deadline – they acquired Garciaparra from Boston at last year’s deadline – Hendry said he would be satisfied.

“Let’s face it, we’ve become accustomed to making large deals the last couple of years,” he said. “I really couldn’t tell you if there’s going to be one tomorrow or not.”

AP-ES-07-30-05 1630EDT

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