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					Wood Says Farewell to Cubs

<p>Kerry Wood has been a Cubs player for 10 years now. He won't be back
next year. It was a disappointing thing for most Cubs fans and teammates
to see.</p><p>That chapter of Kerry Wood's life is now over but he has
memories that will last a lifetime. The end of his baseball life was
bittersweet but he knew it was something he had to do.</p><p>Wood was a
free-agent and had he stayed playing, then he would have been on the
market. He didn't want to play for any other team. The Cubs would much
rather see him end his career with the Cubs and not with another team,
and especially not a rival.</p><p>He told the Chicago media Friday of his
fate in a conference call. Jim Hendry, the Cubs general manager,
announced last week that keeping Wood was not something they were even
considering.</p><p>Wood wanted a long-term deal with the Cubs. He
couldn't' get it because stars like Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and
Alfonso Soriano were already given long-term contracts. The Cubs had
great interest in keeping Carlos Marmol, who has been successful most
times he closed for the north-side team.</p><p>Every team has a franchise
player and the Cubs is no different. Wood has been the face of the Cubs
since the 1998 baseball season. That first year Wood stood out in many
games. He struck out 20 in only his fifth start against division rival
Houston. He was the National League Rookie of the Year. He was on the
sideline because of an elbow injury. He won 14 games when he returned the
next season.</p><p>Wood was suffering from right shoulder pains and that
led to the Cubs moving to relief pitching. At first he was the closer and
led the Cubs to 34 saves. That year he was named to the All-Star
team.</p><p>He transformed over the course of his career. He was a 30
start pitcher; now he's a 30 save pitcher. The change of position from a
starter to reliever helped the team.</p><p>"I feel like I'm having fun
again," Wood said. "It's the most fun I've had playing baseball in a
long, long time, and I can play another three, possibly four, five
years."</p><p>Wood was 17 years old when the Cubs first selected him. He
is now 31 years old and many folks would say that he's in his prime now.
He knew the Cubs weren't going to offer him another deal because Jim
Hendry told him the truth in their meetings.</p><p>"It wasn't a big
surprise," Wood said. "I don't think I would've been surprised either
way. I knew where the team was at. I understood it all during the
season.</p><p>Chicago is Wood's home and he wants to raise his children
in the Windy City. Even the thought of playing for another team is tough
to get past.</p><p>Wood almost threw in the towel prior to this season
because of his nagging shoulder.</p><p>Wood would have considered a one-
year deal if the Cubs had offered it to him.</p><p>Wood finished his
career with the Cubs with a 77-61 record. He will miss the Cubs fans who
have pretty much sold out every home game, despite some years where they
didn't have a good regular season. Of course, he won't miss the talk
about the 100 year World Series drought and the curses.</p><p>He knew
that this year could very well be his last so he was mentally prepared
for it. He spent 10 years in what many view as the best baseball town in
the world. Who is next to be the face of the Cubs franchise? We will have
to wait and see.</p><p>Writer and editor, Freddie Brister, is a former
high school baseball coach of 25 years. His love of the game of baseball
is reflected in his words and memories of growing up in the South and
playing baseball in the back yard with his brother, cousins and
neighborhood friends. His biggest thrill is watching former high school
players he has coached play at the college level. His favorite pastime is
watching college baseball on tv and attending the games in person every
chance he gets. Freddie Brister is a huge fan of the MLB and the Chicago
Cubs. Check out his <a target="_new"
Cubs Merchandise</a> or his <a target="_new"
christmas.htm">Chicago Cubs Christmas ornaments</a></p>

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