Kerry Wood’s 2011 season ended – as the Chicago Cubs’ season did – unceremoniously. He tore the meniscus in his left knee late in the season, and underwent surgery in September.

But was that also the end of his career?

Wood, 34, who returned to the Cubs on a one-year deal before the season after a couple year sojourn in Cleveland and New York, has openly said that he’ll either pitch for the Chicago Cubs in 2012, or he’ll retire. Soon after the new President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was introduced, Wood guessed that he would be having a conversation about that Cubs-or-bust decision soon.

According to a Chicago Tribune source, those conversations have already started. And, according to the same source, Wood is expected to return to the Cubs in 2012.

If Wood is willing to come back on a deal similar to the one-year, $1.5 million sweetheart contract he signed with the Cubs in 2011, and assuming his knee is recovering as expected, there’s little reason the Cubs would turn him down. Wood was effective for most of the year in 2011, throwing 55 innings with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.294 WHIP. He struck out 57.

Wood is also a mentor for a number of the younger pitchers on staff, and can teach them not only how to handle themselves amidst the pressure of Chicago, but can also teach them a thing or two about throwing the ball (for example, he can show them the secret to Mariano Rivera’s cutter, which Wood, himself, learned from Rivera in his short time in New York – very sneaky, Woody).

Whether Wood throws another pitch for the Cubs or not, he’s been assured of a future role with the organization for as long as he wants it.



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