Kerry Wood Strikes Out Final Batter, Retires

Legendary Cubs pitcher decides to hang up his glove

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Legendary Cubs pitcher talks about his decision to retire. (Published Saturday, May 19, 2012)

    Update: Kerry Wood officially will announce his retirement alongside his family Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

    At least he went out with a bang.

    Kerry Wood pitched in his last game for the Chicago Cubs Friday, striking out the only White Sox batter he faced and leaving the mound to a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field faithful. Wood hugged his son Justin outside the dugout, and greeted his teammates before coming out for a curtain call.

    The White Sox won the game, the first in this weekend's Crosstown Classic, 3-2.

    Woods' wife, Sarah, posted a Facebook message Friday morning reflecting the family's decision:  "every story has an end, but in life every ending is just a new beginning".

    At a press conference following the game, Wood simply said it was "time." 

    "We saw how things were going this year and not being able to bounce back as quickly, so it was definitely just time," Wood said.

     Wood began his career with the Cubs in 1998 when he was 20 and spent most of his career playing for Chicago's North Side team. He thrilled the baseball world when he struck out 20 Houston Astros in one of his first games with the club.

    Perhaps more than any other Cub of this generation Kerry Wood reflected Cub fans' hope.

    A Texas High School phenom out of MacArthur High School in Irving Texas, Wood was selected 4th overall in the 1995 Amateur draft.  He made his major league debut April 12, 1998 at the age of 21 and became known as "Kid K" after a 1 hit, 20 strikeout performance against the Astros in just his 5th big league start. 

    Wood went on to become the National League Rookie of the Year and posted 200 strikeouts in four of his first 5 seasons with the North siders  His 1,469 strikeouts with the Cubs ranks third in franchise history behind Fergie Jenkins and Carlos Zambrano.

    White Sox manager Robin Ventura faced Wood many times and remembers standing in the batter's box with #34 on the mound.

    "It wasn't very good"  Ventura recalled, "before there was Strasburg, there was Kerry Wood."

    Now one month before his 35th birthday, number 34 is calling it quits.

    The fan favorite made a dramatic return to the Cubs after two seasons away, when he was introduced at this year's Cub Fan Convention.  Wood re-signed for two more years.  But he won't make it through the first half of the first year of the deal.

    It's been a struggle for Wood this year.  He gave up 2 runs in the 8th inning of a tied game May 9th against the Braves.  As he walked off the field, Wood heaved his glove into the stands.  Then when asked by a reporter afterwards about the incident, Wood uncharacteristically responded, "irrelevant dude, why the F#$% would you bring that up?  You guys have a good one."  Wood then ended the postgame press conference.

    This is not the way Wood wanted to go out.  Not after a 13 yr career, 10 spent with the Cubs, as well as a season each w/the Indians & Yankees.  Wood is 0-2 with an 8.64 EA, 0 saves this season.  He was on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue in late April and may have been pitching with a rotator cuff injury the past year. 

    His was the potential Cub fans hung their hopes on.  Instead Wood's career was marred by injuries, and he never on more than 14 games.

    Unless indeed he gets that one last chance in front of the Wrigley faithful to leave on a high note and pitch this weekend,  Wood leaves the mound with an 86-75 record and 3.67 ERA.

    And like the faithful fans that have cheered him on, Wood is left wondering what could have been.