The 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, GM Jim Hendry said yesterday. Reliever Scott Williamson also could be activated Friday.

Wood will pitch in relief for the first time in his career, hoping it will allow him to pitch through shoulder problems.

Wood, who went on the disabled list on July 21 with right shoulder inflammation, will work out of the bullpen with Class A Peoria, throwing one inning in Fort Wayne, Ind., today and two in Peoria, Ill., on Tuesday.

Garciaparra went on the 60-day DL on April 21 with a left groin tear and is continuing his rehab assignment with Class AA West Tenn. Williamson, a right-handed pitcher who has been at Class AAA Iowa, had elbow ligament replacement surgery last fall.

* METS SIGN W. CORDERO: IF Wil Cordero, released by the Nationals last week, signed a minor league contract with the Mets and was sent to Class AAA Norfolk. Cordero, 33, who hit .118 with no homers and two RBI in 29 games with Washington this season, is a career .273 hitter with 122 homers and 566 RBI over 14 seasons.

* GIANTS ACQUIRE WINN: San Francisco got OF Randy Winn from the Mariners for C Yorvit Torrealba and RHP Jesse Foppert. The Giants also purchased the contract of C Yamid Haad from Class AAA Fresno.

* GOING NUTS: Peanut vendor Roger Owens, who has worked at Dodger Stadium since the ballpark opened in 1962, was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch before yesterday's game in Los Angeles. Owens, whose style has earned him national acclaim, stayed in character by tossing two bags of peanuts behind his back to the plate instead of a ball.

-- From News Services

Veteran infielder Wil Cordero, who struggled with Washington and was released, has been picked up by the Mets.