Results tagged ‘ Kerry Wood ’

5/19 Wood makes it official

5/19 Goodbye

5/19 A perfect ending

I’ve covered Kerry Wood since he was drafted by the Cubs, and feel as if I’ve seen every one of his 1,582 strikeouts. His 20-K game on May 6, 1998, is still my favorite. What most people don’t know is that he was happiest that day because he didn’t walk any one. I’ve also watched most of his rehab outings, too. He is resilient (Ron Santo wins for being most resilient person). Wood went on the disabled list this year for the 16th time. Now, he only needs to use his right arm to carry his kids.

In 2000, we talked about strikeouts for my book, “Banks to Sandberg to Grace.” He said:

“I like strikeouts. They give you a little rush of adrenaline. And there’s days when I want to go out and get 27 ground balls if I can. But the days you go out, and you feel good, and you have good stuff, and you go 0-1 or 0-3 on a hitter – those are good days. I was talking to one of my buddies who’s a left-hander and not a strikeout pitcher, and I said, “When you get 0-1 on a hitter, what are you thinking?” And he said he never thinks about strikeouts, even when he’s got two strikes on a guy. I go 0-1, I’m looking for a strikeout in those situations. And when I get two strikes on a guy, the majority of the time, I’m looking for a strikeout.”

Dayan Viciedo didn’t have a chance on Friday in the eighth when he fell behind 0-2 to Wood.

In ’98, he was National League Rookie of the Year with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts. He missed all of 1999 after needing elbow surgery. He returned as a starter, and in 2003, struck out 266 batters and was 14-11. His highlight that season? Hitting a home run in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Marlins.

Shoulder surgery sidelined him in ’05, and he would return in ’07 as a reliever. Wood took over as closer in ’08, saving 34 games – the perfect number – and helping the Cubs get to the postseason again. His two years in the American League gave him a chance to learn more about the game from Yankees superstar Mariano Rivera. And then he returned home in 2011.

Wood and I worked together last year on a book to be released later this month, part of a “Be All You Can Be” series for children. His message to kids was don’t give up, no matter what setbacks you’re dealt with. He knows. Wood thought about retiring before, when his arm was too high maintenance, but kept pitching because he loved the game. This year, it was too tough to bounce back.

As much of an impact as he had on the field, he was an even bigger presence in the clubhouse. The players know. I’ve watched him grow up from the gangly teen drafted by the Cubs in 1995 to the 34-year-old father of three who could still throw a fastball at 96 mph. But that was the last heater.

Rarely do players decide when to walk away. On Friday, Wood made the call, and it was the perfect ending.

— Carrie Muskat


5/19 Wood & Justin, post-K

5/19 Wood & son Justin pre-game

5/19 Wood post-elbow surgery

5/19 Wood & Cubs celebrate

5/18 To retire or not, that’s the question

In a February interview for the Cubs Vineline publication, Kerry Wood was asked about how much longer he wants to pitch. Had he thought about retiring?

“No, I haven’t,” Wood said then. “At the end of the year, we’ll assess things. If you plan for it — ‘Oh, this is my last trip to so and so’ — that wouldn’t be a fun last season for me. I think it would be draining. It’s something I’d probably do at the end of a season.”

Wood turns 35 in June. On Friday, word leaked that he will announce his retirement after his next appearance.

“There’s definitely stretches every season — there were times when I was 23 and I wanted to retire,” he said in February. “That’s why I think it’s best to let the season be finished, be done for a month or so, let the body recover and see if you want to go through it again.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/18 Wood to retire after one more appearance

Kid K is retiring — eventually. Kerry Wood, who burst onto the scene in 1998 with the Cubs, pitching a 20-strikeout game, apparently wants to pitch in one more game and was then expected to announce his retirement after that. There was no no pre-game announcement about Wood’s future prior to Friday’s Cubs game.

Wood, 34, wants one more outing, and will then leave the game after more than 14 seasons and 1,500 strikeouts. Entering Friday’s Interleague game against the White Sox, Wood was 86-75 with a 3.67 ERA in 445 games, including 178 starts. It’s been a difficult season for Wood, who has spent time on the disabled list with fatigue in his right shoulder.

Dale Sveum said Wood was available to pitch on Friday. The Cubs didn’t know about Wood’s decision until Thursday.

“You don’t prepare for something like this,” Sveum said.

— Carrie Muskat

5/12 About last night …

* Friday’s 13-inning game was 5 hours 4 minutes long, and strangely, followed the shortest game of the year on Wednesday, which was completed in 2:05

* The Cubs walked 14 batters, one shy of the franchise record of 15 set May 15, 1962, against the Mets, which also was a 13-inning game.

* There were 466 pitches thrown (235 by eight Cubs pitchers, 231 by eight Brewers pitchers). Rafael Dolis threw a season-high 41 pitches; his previous high was 39 in his second appearance of the season on April 10 against the Brewers. Dolis now is 3-for-5 in save opportunities this year. Kerry Wood matched his season high with 25 pitches.

“Woody did a great job,” Dale Sveum said. “Hopefully that builds his confidence up.”

* Bryan LaHair was 0-for-6, and his batting average dropped from .384 to .359. His streak of reaching base safely ended at 27 games. Starlin Castro did extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

* After combing for one run over the first six innings, the Cubs and Brewers then totaled 14 in the final seven.

— Carrie Muskat