Cubs: Travis Wood insists on keeping a starter's mentality


Cubs: Travis Wood insists on keeping a starter's mentality

PHOENIX, Ariz. — At some point, it will just come down to simple numbers in a bid for the final rotation spots on the Cubs.

Barring any health issues, it's easy enough to pencil in Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey atop the rotation with Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks claiming the last two spots.

Adam Warren, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard are all being stretched out this spring and have track records as starters, but they also all have recent success as relievers, with the latter three starring for the Cubs late in 2015.

Travis Wood, however, refuses to prepare any other way but as a starting pitcher this spring.

He got the nod to start the Cubs' Cactus League opener Thursday, allowing the first batter of the game to score and picking up the decision in a 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

[MORE CUBS: Kyle Hendricks trying to tune out all the noise in rotation battle]

Wood came to the 2015 camp as a starting pitcher before moving to the bullpen mid-season.

"It's not really [different this spring]," Wood said. "As far as a mindset, it's the same and everything. And as far as what they've told me, I'm going about the thing how I've always gone about it and we'll see what happens in the end."

Wood said he still considers himself a starter long-term and got paid like one over the winter when he inked a one-year, $6.18 million deal with the team avoiding arbitration. 

But he struggled as a starter last season, posting a 5.06 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in nine starts. He excelled as a reliever with a 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings, even picking up the first four saves of his career.

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Wood insists he's going to be ready to go with whatever role the Cubs decide, but still prepared for the winter like he was going to pitch 200 innings this season.

"I just got to know him last year for the first time and Travis knows how I feel about him," manager Joe Maddon said. "Of course, Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] feel the same way about him. I'm certain there's a part of him that wants to be a starter even if he's not going to concede it or say it loudly.

"But he also understands what a great job he did last year and the longevity in the game and the ability to take care of his family for many years just by doing what he's doing right now. And why not do it here? He's well-liked, he knows he's respected. I think we utilized him properly last year.

"I love having Travis back and he knows it. I think he's gonna get better because he has a better understanding of what's going on. He's a better pitcher. He knows himself better. I'm very excited to have him."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective


Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

NBC Sports Chicago’s own Kelly Crull and videographer Scott Changnon recalled what All-Star week in the nations capitol was like from their point of view.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

What Chicago sports team is worth the most money in 2018?

As reported by Kurt Badenhausen in a Forbes article about the 50 richest teams around the globe, the Cubs are the most valuable organization in the Windy City.

Chicago’s North Side baseball team ranks as the 16th wealthiest team in the world, valued at $2.9 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017. The Cubs are the third-most affluent franchise in Major League Baseball, behind the New York Yankees ($4 billion) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion).

This year, the baseball club owned by the Ricketts family surpassed the wealth of the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), who the Cubs were ranked behind last season at $2.68 billion. In the span of a year, the North Siders gained two spots in the top 50 from 18 to 16 on the list.

What could be the reason for this increase?

Could it be that the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central? Or could it be the incredible performances from players like Jon Lester and Javy Baez?

Whatever the reason is for the Cubs’ prosperity, the team is doing something right.

The club also surpassed the Bears on the list this year. In 2017 the Bears (worth $2.7 billion last year) were tied with the Red Sox as the 16th most valuable sports team on Earth. The McCaskey-owned football team has fallen to a tie at 17 with the San Francisco Giants, both valued at $2.85 billion in 2018. The Bears even increased by 6 percent in the last year, making the Cubs’ jump seem greater.

The Bulls, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, are the last team from Chicago to make the cut. They stand at 23 in the top 50, tied with the Denver Broncos. Both franchises are worth $2.6 billion. Chicago’s NBA team even fell a spot from 2017, but they still increased their value by 4 percent (worth $2.5 billion last year).

The Bears are the seventh richest team in the NFL, while the Bulls are fourth wealthiest in the NBA.