Kerry Wood Ready to Return to Cubs Organization, Doesn’t Want to Come Alone

Although his re-signing in the offseason made for a feel-good storyline, Kerry Wood’s big league career came to an end in May after time and arm troubles contributed to a decline in stuff.

The retired great isn’t ready to leave baseball, though. He hinted at a desire to stick with the Cubs in some capacity back when he retired, and it sounds like he’s getting closer to returning in some formal way.

“We’ve kicked some ideas around,” Wood said of his future role with the Cubs organization, according to Sahadev Sharma. “[I’ve] met with and talked to Theo about it. We’re all kinda on the same page and I’m sure we’ll get something done soon and work out all the details. [I] definitely want to be around and definitely want to be involved. In what aspect, we’ll figure that out probably this Winter.”

You can expect to see Wood at Spring Training, at a minimum, working with young pitchers, helping them improve and harness their stuff. From there, it’s possible Wood could continue to work in an instructor role, or in the front office (which, a la Greg Maddux, could also involve some roving instruction).

And he hopes he’s not the only former Cub who returns to the organization, mentioning guys like Maddux, Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, and Sammy Sosa.

“Hopefully we’ll get Ryno back,” Wood said. “Actually, it wouldn’t be bad thing to see Sammy [Sosa] come around too. He did a lot for this organization and a lot for this city. It’d be a shame for him not to come back.”

Sandberg just finished another season managing the Phillies’ AAA team, and is expected to be considered for a big league job in that organization (either manager or coach) soon. Sosa hasn’t done much in organized baseball since retiring five years ago. His time with Cubs was a bit tainted at the end, when, after a late-season collapse (freaking LaTroy Hawkins and Victor Diaz), Sosa left early on the last day of the season. Couple that with ill memories of the corking incident, his playing decline, and his connection to steroid allegations, and Sosa has become something of an afterthought among fans when they recall the Cubs greats of recent memory.

With some time passed, I think it’s fair to believe that Sammy would be welcomed back should he want to return to the organization in some role (probably more ceremonial than anything).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

108 responses to “Kerry Wood Ready to Return to Cubs Organization, Doesn’t Want to Come Alone”

  1. Southern Cub

    Brett, I totally disagree w/ you on the Sosa view, his arrogance and selfish attitude was one of the big reasons why one of the most loved Cubs (Gracie) left the organization for Arizona.

    1. Chris

      Yep, Brett’s correct. The Cubs were ready to move on from Grace and his clubhouse lawyer interferences. And he got a WS ring out of the deal, so he had the last laugh. They were so willing to let him leave that they played 5’8″ Matt Stairs at 1st in his absence when they figured out that Choi wasn’t quite ready. And let’s not forget Julio Zuletta.

      1. AB

        Stairs/McGriff outperformed Grace at the plate in 2001 by a wide margin.

    2. Patrick G

      Grace went from one of my favorite Cubs growing up to not liking him at all. I lived in Arizona and saw him all the time when the Cubs came for spring training. Once he went to Az, won a ring and now their announcer, all he does is praise them and feel he’s done nothing since then for the Cubs. I may be wrong on this, but have not seen him around or heard his name when he was once a fan favorite.

  2. TWC

    Kerry Wood could extend an olive branch to Sammy and, say, buy him a new boombox or something…

    1. Chris

      Maybe Joe Girardi could chip in too.

  3. SirCub

    Carson Cistulli crunches the numbers and based on SB runs per opportunity, Tony Campana is the best base stealer in the league.

  4. CM

    One of the few knowledgeable things Skip Caray ever said was about the Cubs special treatment of Sosa: “Don’t create Frankenstein, then get upset when he destroys the village.” I would contend the Ricketts family would be dealing with MUCH bigger attendance issues were it not for Sammy and the Cubs philosophy at the time, which was pretty much, come on out to the ballpark, have a few beers and laughs with your friends and Sammy will probably hit a homer. PED’s or not, Sammy did his part not only to make the Cubs the draw the are today, but for baseball as a whole and did it with an electric personality. If he wants to be involved and someone like Kerry Wood thinks it’s a positive, he should be.

    1. Chris

      It’s probably time to welcome him back. If they can let Bobby Hull sing the 7th inning stretch, who was a wretched human being in his playing days, Sammy should be forgiven and welcomed back to Wrigley in some informal way. Despite his obvious faults and links to steroids, he was a fan favorite. The Cubs did create that monster, and then turned the public against him as soon as it suited their needs to. And they mad a lot of money making that monster the face of the franchise in some otherwise lean years. Hopefully with age Sammy’s gained some wisdom and would come back, answer the tough questions, accept whatever blame is deserving, and make an appearance from time to time. I don’t think he’s coaching material or anything like that, but there is a generation of Dominicans that might get a kick out of having him around, especially with the DR academy being open next season. It can’t hurt the organization. The signs were always there that he was a hot dog player. We all saw his body transform into the highly-muscled mass of flesh. Yet we all cheered until it was convenient not to any longer. Time to let that all go, and focus our hate on something like the Cardinals.

    2. Karena

      I totally agree

    3. Frank N. Stein

      Fire BAD!. Rrrrrrrrgh!

  5. Chef

    I have zero interest in seeing Sammy return to the team in any capacity.

  6. DarthHater

    Cubs should sign Melky and then bring in Sosa to be his personal coach…

  7. Karena

    I’m not so sure, Theo would be willing to bring back all of those players, but I’m glad Kerry will be around.

    Sandberg, won’t come back unless he’s manager. Sveum is Theo’s guy.
    Grace, love him, but he’s in hot water personally.
    Maddux was here, but let go when Theo came to town.

    That leaves Sammy. I would love for Sosa to come back. Maybe just ceremonial, but I couldn’t agree more with Kerry when he stated “He did a lot for this organization and a lot for this city. It’d be a shame for him not to come back.”

    1. cubchymyst

      I don’t recall Maddux really being let go. I thought it was more of him wanting to join his brother so he left.

      1. Spriggs

        I believe it was a mutual agreement. Maddux wanted more time off – for family issues (and prolly golf). Theo doesn’t really work that way. So it was relatively easy for Maddux to find something that fit for him with his brother.

  8. Rice Cube

    Sammy Sosa may have been a steroid-user and may have left the team on bad terms, but for five or six years he was pretty much the only thing watchable about the team. I agree with Kerry Wood that Sosa did so much for the team that it would be a shame if he weren’t honored in some way.

    I guess I’m in the minority though. I liked Sosa. 500-foot homers were cool.

  9. Ogyu

    Sammy is about to become HOF-eligible in 2013. At that point, he will join the list of players who are not getting voted in due to PED use. Seems to me it would be sending kind of a strange message for the Cubs to give him some special honor at the same time as the HOF voters are taking that position. At any rate, that’s not the kind of publicity the Cubs need right now.

    1. BluBlud

      I disagree. I think it would be the right time. Besides, it was Sammy and McGuire who came out looking smartest after those meetings. McGuire “not here to talk about the past” and Sosa’s convenient amnesia on how to speak English and his “baseball has very, very good to me” line kept either from lying to.congress. Add in the fact that steroids were perfectly legal, or shall I say wasn’t illegal, in baseball at the time, and you get a guy who broke one rule in baseball. That’s not hardly enough to keep him out the game.

      1. DarthHater

        Wow. I hear Richard Nixon is running for office in the seventh circle of hell. I’m sure he has a place for you in his campaign.

        1. Southern Cub

          I’m sure hes in the Obama administration

          1. BeyondFukudome

            Really becoming tiresome with that shit.

          2. hansman1982

            Ok, if you or anyone else wants to mention anything remotely related to politics please, do us all a favor, start your own damn blog and discuss it there.

      2. Ogyu

        it was Sammy and McGuire who came out looking smartest after those meetings.

        You obviously have no comprehension of what “smart” means. Which, I suppose, accounts for the remainder of your comment…

      3. TWC

        For what it’s worth, the non-prescription use of prescription medication has been against the rules of MLB since 1971. That “steroids weren’t illegal” excuse is crap.

    2. stillmisskennyhubbs

      Excellent point, Ogyu.

  10. richdanna

    Love him or hate him, Sammy Sosa was the face of the Cubs, the face of CHICAGO SPORTS, for a several year span. His contribution to the organization and to the city was enormous.

    That said, the majority of baseball fans are casual fans who don’t spend time on message boards or blogging, and don’t get caught up in the crossfire of the details of whether it was Sammy’s fault or Kerry Wood’s fault in the clubhouse at the end of his career.

    What those fans remember about Sammy Sosa is that he played the game hard, smiled 24 hours a day, and hit a crapload of mammoth homeruns.

    Sosa would be welcomed back by the masses with open arms, and his charisma would make him an easy fit as an ambassador of some sort to the Cubs’ organization.

  11. Thad M

    Sammy should be back with the organization and i’d go as far as have his # retired. I’d trade Brenly for Gracie straight up in the booth and let Wood be a pitching coach for Kane County since he’d still be with his family in Chicago!!

  12. cubchymyst

    Between Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa, I would rather see Grace come back to help out with hitting instructions. Sosa might have hit more homeruns but Grace was the better hitter overall.

    1. Drew7

      “Sosa might have hit more homeruns but Grace was the better hitter overall.”


      1. SirCub

        In terms of what part of his ability is “teachable” I guess you could say Grace. Then again, Sammy would probably have a fairly simple set of instructions as to how to achieve prolific power…

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Grace evolved very little as a hitter over his career. Sosa actually did: he is one of the few players who actually “learned” to take walks. His huge homer numbers coincided with Sosa pulling his swing zone about 3-4″ closer, resulting in a ton of walks and taking advantage of his huge opposite field power.

          1. SirCub

            Yea. but Grace never really needed to “evolve.” He had a great approach his whole career.

            1. hansman1982

              The question also should be “Did Sosa actually evolve or did pitchers go from throwing on the outside of his swing zone to 3-4″ outside of his swing zone, did the Umps start giving him more of the boarderline pitches”

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                Sosa was not K’ing by taking close strikes: he was K’ing by swing at pitches out of the strike zone. His ascension from 40+ HR power to 60+ HR power accompanied a reduction of swings on outside pitches, and taking pitches on the outer half to right. Remember, he had impressive opposite field power even as a rookie: but it was not until later that he really learned how to use it.

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              Yes, Grace did need to evolve as a hitter: it hurt the Cubs (and his career) that he never developed more power. Yes, he would have k’d more: but he would have created more total runs.

      2. cubchymyst

        Care to elaborate? I think Grace is the better hitter because he had the most hits in MLB from 1990-1999, and for his career has a better BA and OBP than Sosa. Sosa has a higher SLG only because of his homeruns. Grace average more double a season than Sosa.

        1. SirCub

          Career wRC+:

          Sosa 123
          Grace 119

        2. Drew7

          Grace – .363
          Sosa – .370

          Grace – .825
          Sosa – .878

          It really isn’t as big of a difference as some think, but Sosa was the better hitter. The only thing Grace did a much better job of was making contact.

          ” Grace average more double a season than Sosa.”

          Well…yeah. When 60 of your FB/LD leave the yard every year, there’s gonna be less of a chance of you stopping at 2B!

          “Sosa has a higher SLG only because of his homeruns”

          This is the equivelent of me going bowling and shooting a 220 with 7 strikes and my opponent shooting a 205 with 4 strikes, then him saying that the only reason I beat him is because I rolled more strikes, and he is clearly better since he had more spares than I did.

          1. CM

            Let me say this much also to the Grace/Sosa debate: If Sosa did or didn’t use PED’s at least we know he had to be busting his ass in the gym to become a better player. The only thing Grace ever busted his ass to was the bar after a game, and then the cigarette machine at said bar.

          2. terencemann

            Grace played first base where the expectation on hitting is much higher. Sosa was not only the better hitter, he was also the more valuable hitter because the floor for what a first baseman needs to with the bat to make-up for their limited contributions as a fielder. Even if Grace was an above average fielder, there’s only so much a first baseman can contribute with the glove.

          3. cubchymyst

            Fair point about the doubles vs homeruns (not a great argument on my part). If we also agree that there isn’t much of a difference than the difference boils down to do you want a guy that is more likely to hit a homerun or a guy that is more likely to get on base and make decent contact with the ball. Sosa value is tied to his ability to hit homeruns. Grace value is tied into his ability to make contact and get on base. For me, I’d take a guy with a little less power, who is more likely to make contact and get on base.

        3. Stevie B

          BA is not a good stat!! BA is not a good stat!!!! Hansman!!! Hamnsman!!!


          1. hansman1982

            Ha…I was going to make a comment about it but other peeps beat me to it…

            1. Stevie B

              m not really a smart @$$ Hansman, i just play one on BN ;)

              1. hansman1982

                you should have seen my initial response to you before I “select all” “backspace”…I would have felt like quite the jackwagon…

                1. Stevie B

                  Hahahaha…Good stuff right there.

      3. Southern Cub

        Ummmm Gracie had the most hits in the 90′s (90-99) that includes Tony Gwynn

        1. Drew7

          That’s it? After dozens of comments with a countless number of stats discussed, that’s it? Well then…

          All hits are certainly NOT created equal.

          1. hansman1982

            Case in point – Pete Rose had 1300-ish more hits than Babe Ruth…who is the better hitter?

    2. Kyle

      The last thing in the world this Cubs team needs is Mark Grace coming back and teaching all the up-and-coming young players the fine art of bendering every night before a day game. He already did that for one generation of Cubs, would rather not see it happen again.

      As far as who was a better hitter? Do you mean peak or career? For his career, Mark Grace is somewhat close to Sosa because of Grace’s consistency. But Sosa had five seasons from 1998 to 2002 that make Grace’s best season look like Darwin Barney.

      1. cubchymyst

        I was going with career, Sosa peak years are ridiculous and I will admit that Graces peak year is not as good as Sosa’s. For his career Grace was a better contact hitter and had a better approach at the plate. For a hitting coach I want a guy who can teach a good approach at the plate. As far as Grace’s outside of baseball activities. Yes, that is something that should be discouraged with the current cubs team.

        1. Drew7

          “For his career Grace was a better contact hitter and had a better approach at the plate.”

          What makes you think he had a better approach at the plate?

          1. cubchymyst

            Basing that on OBP and strike outs. Grace might not have hit as many balls over the fence but it is not like he was a pure singles hitter either. Which means he was making solid contact on the balls he hit. To me Sosa strike outs mean he likely expanded his strike zone too much at on 2 strikes. So Grace had a better approach because he got base more while still managed to drive the ball without strike out as much as Sosa.

            1. Drew7

              “To me Sosa strike outs mean he likely expanded his strike zone too much at on 2 strikes”

              No, it means he didn’t have the same ability to make contact as Grace did. Sammy certainly didn’t lack a batting-eye, especially in his prime.

              It all comes down to run-production. With Sosa having the edge in both OPS (by a wide margin) and wOBA – the 2 statistics most correlated with run production – I have to give him the nod on this one.

              Coaching skills aside, I actually think Sosa would know a bit more about maximizing one’s abilities: While Grace was…graced with much better contact skills, Sosa was able to maintain a similar isoD (.071 vs .08) while blowing Grace out of the water in isoP (.261 vs .139), leading to a much better OPS even though his BA was 30 points lower!

              1. cubchymyst

                I looked up there o-swing% on fangraphs, unfortunately the only year that can be compared is 2002.

                Grace – 10.2%
                Sosa – 20.5%

                Sosa swung at twice as many pitches outside the zone as Grace did which suggests Grace had the better batting eye. Look at the rest of the number it is clear that Grace had the better contact skill (which we agree on). Sosa had more power which is shown in his home runs, and since a lot of the saber. stats place a heavier weight on home runs Sosa is going to have a higher numbers in most cases. The question comes down to when you are talking about a better hitter are you talking about batting eye and contact skills or ability to hit for extra bases. As you mentioned above the difference between the two really isn’t that large (which is likely why this discussion is going on for as long as it is).

                1. Kyle

                  When you’re talking about the better hitter, you are talking about the guy whose hitting does the most to help his team score runs (and thus win).

                  The reason power is weighted so heavily is because it matters a lot to scoring runs. It isn’t just some random personal preference of the statmakers.

                  1. cubchymyst

                    I’m willing to admit I’m still learning a lot of the sabermetric stats. It wasn’t until I found this site that I actually started to hear about them and decided to try to learn about them. I Had to look up multiple of the ones mentioned above. When I think of hitting it is probably more of the traditional stand point as far as getting the bat to the ball, getting on base and laying off of balls outside the zone.

  13. Spriggs

    If Theo is going to hire Kerry Wood, I’m thinking he will be giving Kerry some tips on what he should and shouldn’t be saying to the media.


    sAY what you will, but for the most part those players were gamers. They played the game hard ,and when the game was on the line those are the players you wanted batting or pitching .Wood and his KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK every time he pitch it was possible. Sandberg his hitting, fielding and running was a delight – clutch homeruns . Sosa his homerun trot and kissing his fingers towards the sky, Grace a hitting machine and hardnose 1b. Maddux the Cy Young Pitcher we let go and ashamed we did.

    It would be nice to have an old fashion old timer game at Wirgley Field part of a double header . First game old timers :Cubs VS Sox – charity game followed by a sanction real game .
    Just my thoughts

    1. Derrek

      I would love to see an old timer game happen. I think Wrigley would fill up for something like that. Ricketts love a profit so they could even take 1-2 bucks out of every ticket and donate it. On the other side, I just don’t see it happening though. Maybe if it was the off-season or something but I think it would take a lot of convincing for some players to come back for something like this.

      1. Mick

        I just watched the other night on Fox Sports North a re-run of the Minnesota Twins 50th Anniversary Alumni Legends game from a couple of years ago. I wasn’t a fan of the Twins growing up so I didn’t recognize all of the players but it was awesome to see and they weren’t playing softball they were actually playing baseball. I’m sure the Cubs greats would love to come back and play in a game like this or two if Ernie’s involved.

  15. BluBlud

    Sosa made the Cubs a lot of money, and gave us all something to cheer about for a long time. That June in 1998 when he hit 20 HR’s was amazing. Steroids or not, that also takes a lot of talent. He and Kerry carried us that year into the playoffs. To see him around the club house every now and then would not be so bad, as long as they checked his pockets on the way in and confiscated all medications, including the white powdered makeup. HaHa. Really though, Sammy will always be my favorite ball player ever.

  16. Kevin

    Time for the Cubs organization to have “We forgive Steve Bartman” campaign.
    Moses Alou caused the big uproar and just walked away without any apology.
    This whole thing was classless and something needs to be done now!

    1. Derrek

      Red Sox forgave Bill Buckner… why can’t we have Bartman back and have him throw out the first pitch or something? Well I can kind of answer my own question. We ran Bartman out of town (well the media played a decent part too) and it’s safe to say Bartman is in no hurry to return to a place that turned against him in the blink of the eye. I think a campaign would be a good gesture though. Regardless if he responds or not he will still get the message “Sorry Steve, we’s stinks”.

  17. mudge

    Can’t wait to bring back Zambrano in a ceremonial capacity as well.

    1. BluBlud

      Why not? Zambrano pitched and won some big games for the Cubs. Fans seem to think players are supposed to be perfect angels. Ol School ball, a teams players we a teams players. Fans stuck by their guys. You don’t see this in sports anymore.

      1. Derrek

        Agreed. I don’t want every player to be emotional but having a fireball on the team at least shows signs of life. He put up great stats and he is the only Cub in my lifetime to throw a no-hitter. He proudly wore a Cubs uniform for ten years and despite the rough ending, he was a guy I looked forward to watching.

  18. cubzforlife

    I saw Sammy hit 3 homers against the Phillies and two homers against numerous opponents. And nobody cares. It’s really a shame. When I talk baseball with friends and mention Sammy’s feats all I hear is steroids. This guy should of been remembered like Billy Williams or Ernie Banks.

    1. TWC

      [Sosa] should of been remembered like Billy Williams or Ernie Banks.

      Because they used steroids, too? Oh, wait…

      1. Kyle

        Odds the neither of them used amphetamines, playing when they did? Pretty slim.

        1. TWC

          Oh, I’d say the odds are, like, *zilch*.

          1. Drew7

            I don’t know, “white-crosses” and “greenies” were just SO common. It would be unfair to say they did take them, but pretty naive to say there is no chance they did.

            1. TWC

              Oh, yeah, I agree. I think it’s almost a certainty that Williams and Banks used speed at some point (or regularly) in their career (or *zilch* that they didn’t use them).

              Of course, my favorite performance-enhanced performance can be found here.

              1. Drew7

                Oh sh*t, my bad. Damn work, getting in the way of me reading comments thoroughly…

  19. Adam1680

    Not only did Sammy take steroids, but that whole corked bat incident sucked as well. I loved him when he was here until everything started happening. Now I honestly believe he’s a disgrace and insulted the game and history of baseball.

  20. Andrewmoore4isu

    I still get goosebumps when I see Sammy run the bases with an American flag. Was very sad when he corked the “practice” bat

    1. Spriggs

      That was truly a great moment! Had a NY Yankee done that, we’d still be seeing it everyday.

  21. Mat B

    Theo didn’t want Sandburg & Maddux around. What makes anyone think he wants Wood & Sosa around?

    1. Chris

      He already offered Wood a role. Granted, it might be coming from Ricketts, but I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Wood will have a role with the Cubs. I don’t think anyone is advocating Sammy take a similar role, other than what Wood said. I just think it would be a nice gesture to recognize Sammy, despite the issues and steroid speculation, given he was an important member of the team for so long. Maybe that’s throwing out a first pitch and signing the 7th inning stretch. Maybe he makes appearances in Spring, or at the Doiminican facility. He’s not a coaching candidate in my mind, whereas Wood might be a roving instructor.

      1. Mat B

        I think if it was entirely up to Theo, he would wash his hands of everything Cubs that came before him. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him fire every broadcaster, even Ronnie if he was still alive.

  22. lou brock lives

    Kerry Wood knows nothing about pitching mechanics & I do not want him near any of the Cubs pitchers – especially Samardzija. Let him have Moreland’s job in the radio booth at WGN. Then he can push his charity stuff & stay “involved” with the team.
    Have Reed Johnson come back if he is ready to retire & become the outfield & base running coach.

    1. TWC

      Let [Wood] have Moreland’s job in the radio booth at WGN.

      Yes, please!

      Have Reed Johnson come back if he is ready to retire & become the outfield … coach.

      Really? Reed Johnson is a pretty awful defensive outfielder.

      Oh, right. He “hustles”. *sigh*

    2. stillmisskennyhubbs

      Seems that Dave McKay HAS that job, and is doing pretty damned well at it.

  23. Mysterious4th

    I would REALLY love to see ryno back but I doubt that’ll happen just like grace wouldn’t come back they both have felt slighted in some way (not saying its 100% justified) but it would be nice to have wood, grace, ryno, and maddux back. That’s wishful thinking.

  24. loyal100more

    jerome walton, calvin sheraldie, les lancaster, leon durham, mitch webster,… let em all come back, let the door remain open for those who didnt cheat or cause problems. im a big jody davis fan, wheres that guy at? let the “cub way” be the right way…call it old school if you want.

  25. Kevin

    How about Ryno as a fielding/batting/bench coach? Everything I hear about his ability to teach mechanics on the field and at the plate are very solid. Maybe once Theo sees his true ability, he too, along with most Cubs fans, will be thrilled to see Ryno back in Chicago where his heart is and where he belongs.

  26. santo's toupe

    sammy has a much lighter personality since his playing days

  27. Leroy

    Bring back Sosa!!!!!

  28. Stevie B

    This thread has taken a turn for the surreal.

    Man you guys are creative….

  29. stillmisskennyhubbs

    Any notion of Mark Grace doing anything positive for others is contingent on his getting the help he needs. Let’s hope that happens…..

  30. CUB5

    Grace was/is still my favorite Cubs player of all-time. I loved his work ethic and his ability to get on base, which is often overshadowed by the guys hitting 40+ HRs. Grace would be a positive influence on some of our young hitters, but he’ll never move back from AZ. As for Sammy… as I said before, never liked him and thought he was a cancer on the organization. I was glad to finally be rid of him and hope he doesn’t get welcomed back with Theo in charge. I doubt he would even have the decency to ‘slink’ around the clubhouse like McGwire did when he went back to the Cards.