Cubs

Post-surgery, Wood will only pitch for Cubs

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Post-surgery, Wood will only pitch for Cubs

Monday, Sept. 19, 2011
Posted: 4:16 p.m. Updated: 8:41 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
Kerry Wood says hed probably retire if the Cubs dont offer him a new contract. But hes optimistic that he hasnt played his last game in this uniform. He plans to be there when pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in February.

The Cubs officially shut down Wood before Mondays game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 34-year-old reliever will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus immediately after the season ends.

Wood who took a huge discount to return to Chicago repeated his intention to only pitch for the Cubs in 2012.

Im not going to play anywhere else, Wood said. This is where I want to be. If they need me back and want me back, Im sure those conversations will happen in the next couple months.

Those discussions began suddenly last December, when Wood felt an emotional pull at Ron Santos funeral. That night the negotiations picked up at a Lakeview pizza joint, where Ryan Dempster was hosting a fundraiser. There Wood told Jim Hendry: Trust me, its not going to cost as much as you think.

Within a week, they had closed on a one-year, 1.5 million deal. Hendry who helped make Wood the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft was ultimately fired as general manager. But chairman Tom Ricketts seems willing to honor the handshake agreement that Wood will be a Cub for life.

I spent half my life here in this organization, Wood said. I get a chance to build a new relationship with the Ricketts family. I plan on being around. Im raising my kids here. My familys going to be here. As much as they want me around, Id love to be a part of the organization.

Im not saying its going to be broadcasting. Im not saying its going to be radio. Im not saying Im coaching, managing, any of that stuff. (Well see what happens.)

As much as this became a feel-good story for Cubs fans, Wood was more than a public-relations boost. He finished this season at 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 51 innings. He was a power arm out of the bullpen and a leader in the clubhouse, someone Andrew Cashner and the other young pitchers looked up to.

Wood knows hes getting older because he felt something pop when he squatted down and stood back up after a recent game. Hes been wearing a knee brace since spring training, but to this point had been able to manage the condition.

Wood was scheduled to meet with Dr. Stephen Gryzlo on Monday night. Theyll wait for the swelling to go down around the knee before surgery. Wood anticipates a recovery time of six weeks and expects to be fully ready by spring training.

Wood is already thinking about the next phase of his life his charity bowling event raised around 400,000 for his foundation on Sunday night but hes definitely looking for another one-year deal.

Wood left millions on the table last winter. He laughed when a reporter mentioned that hes really strengthening his bargaining power by saying he wont pitch anywhere else.

Just doubled that, didnt I? Wood said. I think Ill be all right.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: