For Travis Wood, Saturday's start in Cincinnati might mean a little more than usual. The Cubs left-hander will be taking the mound against his former team, and Chicago manager Dale Sveum knows from experience that players don't take those games lightly.
"I don't care who you are -- I've been traded and been on different teams and come back and faced the (old) team," Sveum said. "It's a different game, no question about it."
Chicago acquired Wood after the 2011 season in a trade with the Reds. The Cubs shipped right-handed reliever Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, flipping a valuable asset for a young talent.
Marshall was placed on the disabled list for the second time this year with a sprained shoulder. Wood has been excellent for Chicago through nine starts this season, recording a 4-2 record and a 2.24 ERA. He has struck out 39 and walked 19 through 60 1/3 innings.
"Travis can pitch," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "We liked Travis. We liked Travis when he was here, but you have to give up something to get something."
Baker described Wood as a "Cliff Lee-type in the making."
"He's like a little bulldog-type," Baker said. "You wouldn't know he's 5-10 or whatever it is. He hits a lot better. He runs a lot better. He's a good athlete, and he comes at you."
This will be Wood's second start against the Reds this year. He was tagged with a 5-4 loss on April 22, allowing two earned runs on four hits, one a home run, and two walks. He struck out five in 6 1/3 innings.
The Cubs must have viewed the Wood trade as a worthy gamble, because Sveum said he never wants to trade within the division unless his team is getting help in an area of major need.
"You don't want to trade in your division, because -- I don't care if you're in the front office or whoever you are -- your ego doesn't want that player to come back and haunt you," Sveum said.
With a hectic weekend in Cincinnati, Baker said his team needs to avoid distractions as the Taste of Cincinnati will be bringing the crowds downtown.
"We can't be distracted by it," Baker said. "We have to use that energy that's going to be in the crowd to our advantage. We're glad that people are coming out to watch us play. We usually respond well. Like I said, you still gotta play the game, and you gotta play every day."
The Reds, fresh off a 7-2 road trip, have won 10 of their last 12 games. They entered the weekend series tied with the Pirates at one and a half games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central race.
"We're playing good ball, but there's other teams in the division, other teams in the league playing good ball. So you just have to keep playing," Baker said. "You can't really go on what you've done, or cry on what you haven't done. We have to just keep fighting. We've still got a long way to go. We're about a third of the way through the season, and we've worked hard to get where we are. We have to work hard to get better."
Reds: Homer Bailey to start for Cincy
Homer Bailey will start for the Reds on Saturday after pitching seven scoreless innings in his last outing. Bailey allowed five hits, walked one and struck out three in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies.
Back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning spoiled Bailey's solid start.
"I tried to lobby for the eighth," Bailey said after the game. "Sometimes you win those, sometimes you lose those. I was feeling pretty good still."
In the game before that, he threw 125 pitches in a complete game win against the Marlins. Bailey is 2-3 on the season with a 3.09 ERA in 58.1 innings.
Cubs: Jackson looking for his groove
Just a few months into his four-year, $52-million contract, Edwin Jackson is underperforming. The Cubs starter is 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA in 53 innings this season.
"You've got a commitment there. You've got to stick with the commitment and coach them and teach," Sveum said of Jackson Friday. "It's not like he's a kid. He's a veteran player. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. People play in the big leagues a long time. Sometimes you just have to do the things to get better yourself."
Sveum said there are no plans to take Jackson out of rotation. He said he'd like to see Jackson throw with more conviction and be in full game mode from the first pitch.
• Alfonso Soriano did not start for the Cubs on Friday. Sveum said the 37-year-old outfielder will definitely return to the lineup in next week's Crosstown Classic against the White Sox that begins Monday.
• With Marshall headed to the DL, Reds reliever Manny Parra was activated early from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. Parra was placed on the 15-day DL last month with a strained left pectoral muscle.
• The Reds and Cubs played in front of Great American Ball Park's third sellout crowd of the season on Friday. Saturday and Sunday's games are also sold out.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.