Cubs

Wood ready to contribute on Cubs

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Wood ready to contribute on Cubs

In dealing away arguably the best relief pitcher in the game in Sean Marshall, the Cubs had to be getting something good in return.

While the two prospects were a definite plus, Travis Wood was the biggest part of the deal coming back to Chicago.

"The organization needs more starting pitching, both at the big-league level and in the minor leagues," Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a conference call Friday after the trade became official. "You've got to start somewhere. We're really happy to acquire Travis Wood.

"Twenty-four-year-old left-handed starters who have already had success in the big leagues don't grow on trees. We had to give up a great relief pitcher in Sean Marshall, somebody we were proud to call a Cub. We think to acquire Wood and the two young guys, it was worth doing."

Wood found success right away in the big leagues in 2010, compiling a 3.51 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 17 starts. He even put up a near-perfect game in a duel with perennial Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.

He struggled in 2011, however, bouncing between the Reds and their Triple-A affiliate last season. He struggled to the tune of a 4.84 ERA and 1.49 WHIP while giving up 10 hits per nine innings.

"We still think all the ingredients are there to make him an excellent starting pitcher in the big leagues," Epstein said. "You're not be able to get guys like that after their strong rookie years. Sometimes, you have a chance to get them after they take a little bit of their lumps on the learning curve and that was how we see last year.

"It was a good developmental year for him. Hopefully he can come in and learn from what he went through last year and pick up where he left off in 2010."

When the Reds traded for Mat Latos last weekend, Wood was kind of the odd man out in the Cincinnati rotation.

"This trade is a great opportunity for me," the Arkansas native said his southern twang. "The Reds do have a lot of depth in their rotation, whether they'd fit me in there or not. I was kind of back and forth between the rotation and starting in 2011, so hopefully I'll get to Chicago and be able to make a difference."

Besides the opportunity to have an impact in the rotation, Wood will probably benefit just from leaving Cincinnati.

In 15 career games (13 starts) at Great American Ballpark -- a notorious hitter's paradise -- Wood has a 5.30 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and .294 batting average against. In 24 games (22 starts) on the road, those numbers drop to 3.58, 1.18 and .237.

He also boasts a 3.38 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and .133 batting average against in two games at Wrigley Field.

"I think I'm feeling very comfortable," Wood said. "I like Wrigley Field and everything, so we're just going to go out there and take it a day at a time and see what happens."

The former second-round pick will turn 25 in February, but is under team control through 2016, a point that was very important to Epstein and his front office staff.

"I believe this fits what we're trying to do in the bigger picture," Epstein said. "Age is one thing, but years of control is another important factor."

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.