CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs ace Rick Sutcliffe had his sights set last year on winning a second National League Cy Young Award.

Even though his visions faded when he developed a wart on his finger and went six weeks without a victory, Sutcliffe finished second in the voting to Steve Bedrosian of the Philadelphia Phillies. Sutcliffe ended the season at 18-10 with a 3.68 ERA after a 15-4 start.

"As healthy as I was and the way I was going {early in the season}, I had thought about it," said Sutcliffe, who captured the award in 1984 when the Cubs won the NL East. "But after I got that wart on my finger and went six weeks without winning a game, I put the Cy Young thoughts aside.

"Maybe it's just as well, it wouldn't have looked good alongside the one I won in 1984 because this time the Cubs didn't win," he said. It might have been embarrassing for a team to finish last like the Cubs did and have the league's most valuable player in Andre Dawson and the Cy Young winner.

When Sutcliffe got the wart on his right index finger, he tried to keep pitching. He couldn't and had it removed. He tried to come back too soon and the result was his six-week drought.

"Just to be considered made me very happy," said Sutcliffe, "especially when you were 5-14 the previous year and your general manager told you he couldn't give you away."

That general manager was Dallas Green. He has since been replaced by Jim Frey.

"We came back from a road trip and were three games out of first place. Steve Trout had pitched back-to-back shutouts and Dallas traded him," Sutcliffe said. "He had wanted to trade him from the start of spring training and Andre Dawson had to beg to sign with the club . . . . Once Trout was traded, the team morale turned over completely."

Sutcliffe said Gene Michael, then the manager, didn't want to trade Trout and didn't even know the pitcher had been traded.

Sutcliffe said he thinks the new team of Frey and Manager Don Zimmer will work in harmony.

"Zimmer is the manager and he walked away from a great situation in San Francisco," said Sutcliffe. "He's not here for the money. He thinks this club can win and I think we have turned the corner. This team can get well in a hurry."

One reason is that Sutcliffe is healthy after injuries sent him into a slump in 1985 and 1986. "I've been the biggest question mark for three years," he said, "but that situation is resolved now. . . . And with the eight players we can put on the field, I don't think there's a better club in baseball."

Sutcliffe said youngsters like Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux and Les Lancaster are ready to step in to help the pitching. "And Calvin Schiraldi can be a starter. That's why that deal {reliever Lee Smith to Boston for Schiraldi and Al Nipper} was made."