chicago cubs Wood Says Farewell to Cubs

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Kerry Wood has been a Cubs player for 10 years now. He won't be back next year. It was a disappointing thing for most Cubs fans and teammates to see.

That chapter of Kerry Wood's life is now over but he has memories that will last a lifetime. The end of his baseball life was bittersweet but he knew it was something he had to do.

Wood was a free-agent and had he stayed playing, then he would have been on the market. He didn't want to play for any other team. The Cubs would much rather see him end his career with the Cubs and not with another team, and especially not a rival.

He told the Chicago media Friday of his fate in a conference call. Jim Hendry, the Cubs general manager, announced last week that keeping Wood was not something they were even considering.

Wood wanted a long-term deal with the Cubs. He couldn't' get it because stars like Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano were already given long-term contracts. The Cubs had great interest in keeping Carlos Marmol, who has been successful most times he closed for the north-side team.

Every team has a franchise player and the Cubs is no different. Wood has been the face of the Cubs since the 1998 baseball season. That first year Wood stood out in many games. He struck out 20 in only his fifth start against division rival Houston. He was the National League Rookie of the Year. He was on the sideline because of an elbow injury. He won 14 games when he returned the next season.

Wood was suffering from right shoulder pains and that led to the Cubs moving to relief pitching. At first he was the closer and led the Cubs to 34 saves. That year he was named to the All-Star team.
He transformed over the course of his career. He was a 30 start pitcher; now he's a 30 save pitcher. The change of position from a starter to reliever helped the team.

"I feel like I'm having fun again," Wood said. "It's the most fun I've had playing baseball in a long, long time, and I can play another three, possibly four, five years."

Wood was 17 years old when the Cubs first selected him. He is now 31 years old and many folks would say that he's in his prime now. He knew the Cubs weren't going to offer him another deal because Jim Hendry told him the truth in their meetings.

"It wasn't a big surprise," Wood said. "I don't think I would've been surprised either way. I knew where the team was at. I understood it all during the season.

Chicago is Wood's home and he wants to raise his children in the Windy City. Even the thought of playing for another team is tough to get past.

Wood almost threw in the towel prior to this season because of his nagging shoulder.
Wood would have considered a one-year deal if the Cubs had offered it to him.

Wood finished his career with the Cubs with a 77-61 record. He will miss the Cubs fans who have pretty much sold out every home game, despite some years where they didn't have a good regular season. Of course, he won't miss the talk about the 100 year World Series drought and the curses.

He knew that this year could very well be his last so he was mentally prepared for it. He spent 10 years in what many view as the best baseball town in the world. Who is next to be the face of the Cubs franchise? We will have to wait and see.

Freddie Brister is a big fan of Major Leagure Baseball. Check out his Chicago Cubs Store or his Atlanta Braves Merchandise at SportsFanTreasures.

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