5/23 The perfect ending
It seemed as if Kerry Wood’s final appearance was perfectly scripted but Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk said the right-hander almost went longer in the game rather than the drama of striking out one batter and exiting. Quirk, manager Dale Sveum and the other coaches had talked about Wood’s request to have one more appearance before retiring. They weren’t sure exactly when it would happen. What complicated things a little was that Sveum was ejected in the fifth, which meant the final decision was up to Quirk.
“We knew we wanted to get him in — we didn’t know it would be that day, that weekend,” Quirk said Wednesday. “It was emotional, even for me, and I’ve only been around Kerry for three months. I was literally thinking he would pitch to the two right-handers [Dayan Viciedo and Alex Rios]. [Wood] was due up sixth [in the Cubs eighth]. The worst case scenario is he would pitch to the two right-handers, and I told [pitching coach Chris Bosio] if we don’t get to his spot, I can send him back out and then we can go get him and he can get his ovation.”
Wood struck out Viciedo on three pitches and Rios had poor numbers against left-handed pitchers so Quirk decided to pull Wood at that point and called on left-hander James Russell.
“What better time? He just struck him out, we still had a ballgame,” Quirk said. “I knew I wasn’t hurting our chances to win to bring in Russell to face the right-hander because the right-hander didn’t hit lefties well. I wasn’t putting the game in jeopardy. If it was in jeopardy, I would’ve had [Wood] face the right-hander. It was just right to do it at that time.”
— Carrie Muskat