Paul Sullivan is back to answer his first batch of Cubs questions, and he also has some questions of his own for curious Cubs fans.

Has Kerry Wood lost any velocity since his major surgery a few years back? If I remember right, he was consistently clocked at 97-98 mph in his rookie year. What's his fastball clocking at nowadays? --Vinson Lew, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Here's what Wood had to say when I asked him your question on Monday: "It's there, if not a little bit better. It's more consistent (now). I topped out about the same, but I consistently throw harder than I did before the surgery. I vary. One start I'll be (averaging) 96-97, and the next I'd be 92-94. It's been consistent since last year. My rookie year, I was touching on 98, 98, but I had no idea where it was going."

Hi, Paul, who's going away when Antonio Alfonseca returns? Seems like the whole pen is going aces at the moment. Hate to upset the chemistry. Quite a riddle, no? --Dave Snyder, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Alfonseca is expected back soon after the Cubs begin a nine-game homestand on May 2, meaning one of the relievers must be demoted or traded. The most likely choice would appear to be Juan Cruz, whose hot start in New York is quickly fading from view. Whether the Cubs would deal someone with his potential is the obvious question, but they could send him to Iowa and get him back in a starting mode.

Paul, I was wondering if there has ever been a better combined pitching performance in MLB history in terms of strikeouts versus walks than Wednesday's duel between Mark Prior and Javier Vasquez. Is the combined K versus BB ratio of the game (27-0 including Expos relievers) the highest ever? --Todd Feurer, Chicago

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the highest in any major league game since at least 1900, when the modern era began.

I've always wondered why the Cubs broadcast several games every year locally on WCIU. Aren't they losing revenue by not broadcasting them on FSN or WGN? And why does it seem that the games on WCIU are almost always night games at Wrigley? And does this anger the fans of the quality programming at Ch. 26, like elimidate, Judge Mathis or Fresh Prince of Bel Air? --Rob Zeis, Des Moines, Iowa

The Cubs like having games on WCIU because of Ch. 26's rich history of broadcasting. I fondly recall coming home from school and watching "Soul Train" every day at 4:30 on Ch. 26, so I will not have you disparage this fine Chicago institution.

Paul, can you compare Kerry Wood now to the Kerry Wood-pre elbow surgery? Does he have as much velocity as before? Thanks. --Mike Phipps, Greenwood, Ind.

Looks like the same old Kerry Wood to me, especially since he just shaved. Why are Cubs fans so obsessed with Kerry Wood's velocity?

What happened to Clement's goatee? Seems Wood has lost his also. -- Joe Landry, Cary, N.C.

Sources tell me they both shaved. Why are Cubs fans so obsessed with their pitchers' facial hair?

What's the story with Luis Montanez? I see he's back in Class A. Is he still a prospect? --Wade Nelson, River Forest

Montanez's defense- 38 errors at short last year at Class A Daytona- did not merit a promotion. As the third player selected in the 2000 draft, Montanez needs to show vast improvement before he goes down alongside the likes of Ty Griffin, Earl Cunningham and Brooks Kieschnick, wasted first-round draft picks of the recent Cubs past.

Why hasn't Gil Thorp been printed in the past week or so? --Frank Dziedzic, Lindenhurst, Ill.

Gil has been put on waivers after a long and distinguished career in the Tribune sports section. I believe the evil Marty Moon finally did him in. He can still be read online however.

Alou is starting off good and hopefully (remains good) the rest of the season. I know he has one more year on his contract, but if Vladimir Guerrero is available do you think the Cubs will give him the cash to play for the Cubs? --Stephanie Fleming, Chicago

Uh, no.