Earlier today, news broke that Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Kerry Woods will retire after his next appearance, which could come as soon as today’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
After he was drafted by the Cubs as the fourth pick in the 1995 Amateur Draft, Wood worked his way through the minor leagues and debuted for the club on April 12, 1998. Then a heralded starting pitcher, Wood was expected to do great things and perhaps even become one of the most successful starters of all-time.
In just his fifth major league start, Wood tied Roger Clemens’ all-time record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game when he fanned 20 Houston Astros on his way to a one-hit shutout. That year, Wood went on to post a 13-6 record with a 3.40 ERA and 233 strikeouts en route to being named as the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
Unfortunately, Wood also missed the final month of the ’98 regular season because of elbow soreness, which led to him missing the entire ’99 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, a tell-tale sign of what was to come in his career.
After battling injuries over the next several years, Wood ultimately returned as a reliever in 2007 and in ’08 he became the Cubs’ closer, a role that rejuvenated his career. Following a 34-save season, he signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Indians to be their closer. With the Tribe, Wood accrued 28 saves, but after being placed on the disabled list for the 14th time in his career on July 17, 2010, he was traded to the New York Yankees. Despite providing them with a highly effective setup man for closer Mariano Rivera, the Yankees did not exercise Wood’s option, and thus he became a free agent once again.
Over the past few seasons, Wood has returned to the Cubs and remained a member of their bullpen. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance, more injuries and inconsistency have continued to plague him, finally resulting in the announcement of his retirement.
I will always remember Wood as the guy who had so much promise, but was derailed by numerous trials and tribulations, particularly regarding his health. He hasn’t had a bad career by any stretch of the imagination, but he has certainly failed to live up to the hype that was afforded him at the beginning of his career.
With that said, as Major League Baseball bids adieu to Wood, let’s remember his finest performance, way back on May 6, 1998:
Kerry Wood 20 Strike-Out Game
Other articles by Josh McKinney:
Word Association Chain: From the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees
Fact or Fiction: MLB May 15, 2012
Top Ten Outfielders in MLB Right Now