MLB: Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood Retiring

Sabrina B.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood will retire after his next outing, which could come as soon as Friday, a source familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine.

The Cubs won’t force him into a game, a source told ESPNChicago.com’s Doug Padilla. The announcement will come after his next appearance. The team has said Wood is available to pitch Friday afternoon in the first game of the city series against the Chicago White Sox.

Initially, it was reported that Wood would retire Friday, but the plan to let him pitch once more before the announcement was revealed by sources.

“Yeah, we talked about it (Wood’s retirement),” manager Dale Sveum said. “if you can appreciate me not talking about it until it gets out from Kerry Wood, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to talk about it right now. He’s available to pitch according to whatever happens in the game. But he’s ready to pitch today.”

Sveum added that the bullpen was shorthanded after Thursday night’s 8-7 loss to the Phillies, in which three relievers were used.

“However the game pans out, we’ll see,” he said of using Wood Friday. “But we’ll just use him when he’s been available.”

Wood appeared to start his going-away party by taking out the lineup card Friday.

Wood, 34, is 0-2 with a 8.64 ERA and has been battling health issues all season.

Wood is best-known for his 20-strikeout game during his rookie of the year campaign in 1998, earning him the nickname “Kid K.”

He was a driving force behind four playoff teams — 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008. he won two games against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS in 2003, pushing the Cubs into the NLCS.

When word spread that Wood was planning to step down, White Sox players offered their take.

Starter Jake Peavy said that Wood was a pitcher “you wanted to be like because of how dominant he was as a starter and then when he went to the bullpen.”

The dominance of his 20-strikeout game left a big impression.

Peavy said: “I can you tell you when you watch that game and you watch what he did to a big league lineup, I’m not taking anything away from any of these games, you can go watch Phil (Humber) and his perfect game, you can go watch Mark Buehrle and his perfect game, please don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s not a comparison to what he did and the domination and shear fact ‘I’m so much better than you today.’ That’s incredible.”

First baseman Paul Konerko lauded Wood as a “a guy who came right at you and challenged you.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura recalled the phenomenon that Wood was as a young pitcher.

“I think with everything going on now with (Stephen) Strasburg, before him, it was Kerry Wood. when he came up, he was as good as there ever was. he threw hard, great curveball, competitor, professional. It’s always sad when you see a guy like him kind of make that choice.”

Unable to stay healthy as a starter, Wood remade himself into an effective closer. he saved 34 games for the Cubs in 2007 and priced himself out of the Cubs’ plans.

He signed a two-year, $20.5 million contract with the Cleveland Indians. he spent 1½ seasons in Cleveland before being traded to the New York Yankees in 2010, and was part of their bullpen as they advanced to the ALCS.

Wood returned to the Cubs in 2011 at a bargain price, $1.5 million for one year. he had maintained a residence in Chicago and is considered one of the most popular Cubs in recent history.

Wood’s final season has been a rough one. he barely pitched five innings in Cactus League play because of what turned out to be shoulder discomfort. he walked three batters on Opening Day and blew a save. Two days later, he took the loss in giving up three runs.

The low point came may 8, when a frustrated Wood tossed his cap and glove into the stands as he was walking to the dugout after being pulled by Sveum. Wood walked two batters and gave up two runs in the eighth inning that allowed the Atlanta Braves to break a tie game and eventually win.

The normally accommodating Wood cut his postgame interview short and walked away when a reporter asked him about the incident after the game.

Wood had to return home during the middle of the Cubs’ first road trip in April, and he received a cortisone injection in the shoulder. he eventually went on the disabled list.

Tuesday was just the second outing for Wood since coming off the DL, and he has given up two runs in each of those appearances.

The two-time All-Star has an 86-75 record and 3.67 ERA. he also has 63 saves.

ESPN

MLB: Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood Retiring


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