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Kerry Wood to announce retirement, but may pitch one last time at Wrigley Field

May 18, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Kerry Wood AP

Kerry Wood has struggled since returning from a disabled list stint two weeks ago, allowing five runs in six innings following a month off because of a shoulder injury, and now the one-time phenom turned quality setup man has decided to call it a career at age 34.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that Wood will announce his retirement today following a 14-year career, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Wood will be available out of the bullpen one final time for this afternoon’s game against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. That would be one hell of a sendoff.

Wood burst onto the scene as a flame-throwing, unhittable 21-year-old rookie in 1998, striking out 20 batters in one of the most dominant performances in baseball history, but then blew out his elbow and missed all of 1999. He returned as a very effective starter, posting a 3.68 ERA in 138 starts from 2000-2004 and topping 200 strikeouts in three straight seasons, including a league-leading 266 whiffs in 2003.

However, after more injuries limited Wood to a total of 114 innings from 2005-2007 he shifted to the bullpen full time and established himself as a quality setup man. He was excellent for the Cubs last season, taking less money to return to Chicago and then posting a 3.35 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 51 innings, but this year he’s walked 11 batters in eight innings.

It’s a shame we never got to see what a healthy Wood was truly capable of, because the rookie who took the baseball world by storm in 1998 was absolutely amazing to watch and racked up a ridiculous 233 strikeouts in 167 innings before his arm gave out. He came back to throw 1,213 innings with a 3.71 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine frames, which is a damn fine career by itself, but he made just two All-Star teams and never received a single Cy Young vote.

Wood’s right arm was capable of so much more if it didn’t let him down repeatedly, but it’s nice to see him go out as a Cub considering how much he loved Chicago. And he’ll be remembered long after pitchers with twice as many wins are forgotten.

  1. mscott4 - May 18, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I loved Kerry Wood, he was a great pitcher and seemed like a good person, but it was time. He wasn’t pitching well at all and when he threw his glove into the stands I said to a friend he looks like he’s done, like he has no interest anymore. Good for him to know this and walk away rather than to continue to put the Cubs in bad situation in the 7th and 8th. Now, if only the rest of the Cubs bullpen would feel the same way.

  2. mreezybreezy - May 18, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Class act. All the best in the future Kerry…

  3. illegalblues - May 18, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Hard to believe he’s only 34

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - May 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Thanks for everything, Kerry. You’ll always be a Cub.

  5. gostros19 - May 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Even though Kerry got his name on the map by striking out 20 of my guys making them look like fools, I still wish him the best! Could never hate Kerry Wood.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - May 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      For those who might not remember, in his 5th MLB start, not only did he tie the MLB record of 20 strikeouts, he came within two slightly off pitches of it being a 20K perfect game. A 3rd-inning infield single off the fielder’s glove that many felt could have been ruled an error; and a 6th-inning hit batter. No one else got to 1st base safely. 20 strikeouts. It was truly quite amazing.

  6. ajcardsfan - May 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Mr. Wood, have a healthy retirement. You were a hell of a pitcher, and there’s something admirable about a person taking less money to stay with the team they started with.

  7. goawaydog - May 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I am glad to have seen him pitch at Wrigley, something i will always remember fondly.

  8. natstowngreg - May 18, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Another sad case of what might have been. Great talent lost to injury. Hope he has a nice rest of his life.

  9. storebrandcookies - May 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Was listening to the local radio station and I heard an intresting story where his high school coach just wore out his arm by making him pitch so many innings. What a waste of a great talent, I wish you the best Kerry.

    • crookedstick - May 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      What??? That can’t be…I thought every arm problem ever suffered by Wood, Prior, and any other Cubs pitcher dating back to Ferguson Jenkins was Dusty Baker’s fault!!!

      • Alex K - May 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        It wasn’t all Dusty’s fault, but damned if he didn’t do his best to help burn Wood out.

  10. kingdavid56 - May 18, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Thank you Mr. Woods for all the great memories

  11. Alex K - May 18, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Thanks for all the great moments, Kid K.

    • Tim's Neighbor - May 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      I’ll never forget coming home from school and turning on WGN to see Kerry Wood killing the Astros en route to his 20 K’s. I yelled for my brother to come watch and we canceled our afternoon plans. The hitters never had a chance.

      And I’ll also never forget Kerry Wood’s (who was pitching on short rest I believe) early inning home run in Game 7 of the NLCS. I drove 6 hours from university to catch that game. When he hit it, Wrigley went bananas. Strangers hugging strangers, high fives, beers spilled. I’ve never been in a louder stadium. That’s the run that cemented Alex K as a Cubs fan, I believe. Poor guy. I should have warned him.

      • Alex K - May 18, 2012 at 4:07 PM

        It’s what brought me back to baseball. I was a “Cubs fan” before that. But that is when I got hooked again.

  12. stlouis1baseball - May 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    I always like Kerry Wood. I also have much admiration for him deciding to take less money to pitch in Chicago as well. Very refreshing. Enjoy your retirement.

  13. brewcrewfan54 - May 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I never liked Kerry Wood but that’s because he was always making the Brewers look silly. Unfortunate the way injuries hammpered a guy with a ton of talent. Enjoy your retirement Mr Wood, maybe we’ll see you coaching or doing commentary in the future.

    • recoveringcubsfan - May 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      I know just how you feel: I grew up hating Barry Sanders because I was a Bears fan, then at some point realized how lucky any of us was just to see his talent, even if he was making my team look bad.

      More on-topic, Kerry Wood is one of the saddest in a game full of sad stories. I’ll always remember him for his ballsiness in guaranteeing a win in game 7 against the Marlins in the Bartman series, then failing. You did your best, kid.

  14. wonkypenguin - May 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    So would it make any sense at all to have him start the game? Just come in and pitch to the first guy and then pull him? Or do you not short your bullpen that way? /sentimental Cubs fan who loves Kerry Wood

  15. hoopmatch - May 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    He should throw his glove and cap into the stands one more time.

  16. steelymcbeam6 - May 18, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    The ken Griffey Jr of pitchers?? All the talent in the world but injuries killed career production.

    • jashton11 - May 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      I think that comparison only works up to a certain point. Griffey’s injuries robbed him of being in the discussion as one of the greatest players ever, but he’s still going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Wood has had a memorable career (I know I’ll never forget his 20-K game), but it’s hard to argue for him being in the Hall.

  17. larryboodry - May 18, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Thank you, Kerry Wood, for your class and integrity all these years, through good times and bad, and battling back from adversity…The Cubs and their fans will always appreciate your contributions to the city on and off the field.

    Stay classy, Kerry Wood.

  18. materialman80 - May 21, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    So he can lose one more time in the losers stadium?? Whatever.

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