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.