By Adam Hoge –
WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) Kerry Wood will always be remembered as a great Chicago Cub, but he’ll also be remembered for what could have been.
The veteran right-hander announced his retirement after throwing one last strikeout Friday at Wrigley Field against the Chicago White Sox.
Wood entered the game in the seventh inning and struck out Dayan Viciedo with one out and a man on first. He left to a huge applause from both Cubs and White Sox fans after shaking hands with all his infielders. His son greeted him with a huge hug at the dugout steps and moments later, Wood returned for a curtain call.
“It was time,” Wood said after the game. “We saw how things were going this year. Just not being able to recover and bounce back and do my job, essentially.”
The right-hander has struggled this year, registering a 0-2 record with a 8.64 ERA in nine appearances. After allowing two runs against the Atlanta Braves May 8, Wood threw his glove in the stands and stormed out of the clubhouse after a reporter asked him about it after the game.
“I know for him to feel this way, he’s probably got to be going through a lot pain,” Dempster said. “But he’s made a lot of people better, myself included, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that. It will be tough not seeing him out there, for sure.”
Wood was drafted by the Cubs with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 amateur draft and made his Major League debut in 1998. He will forever be remembered for striking out 20 batters against the Houston Astros as a rookie in 1998 while throwing the first complete game of his career.
Dempster, who was pitching in Portland, Maine as a minor leaguer back then, reflected on Wood’s most memorable game.
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, man, I’m the same age as him and like, holy cow, he just struck out 20 in the big leagues.’ Pretty incredible,” Dempster said.
Wood quickly became the fastest pitcher to 1,000 career strikeouts, doing it in just 134 games, but he was ultimately slowed down by injuries and finishes his career with 1,581 strikeouts.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura faced Kerry Wood when he was in the National League and didn’t have very fond memories as an opposing batter.
“I didn’t like it,” Ventura said when asked about facing Wood. “It didn’t work out for me.”
Many wondered if Wood would retire in the offseason, but he decided to come back after signing a a one-year contract for 2012 worth $3 million. Over 14 seasons, 12 with the Cubs, Wood was 86-75 with a 3.67 ERA.