Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood will apparently announce his retirement later today.
The announcement may come following this afternoon's game at Wrigley Field against the crosstown rival White Sox as interleague play begins.
Wood, who turns 35 next month, has struggled this season. In nine appearances out of the bullpen, Wood has gone 0-2 with an 8.64 ERA surrendering eight runs in eight and a third innings pitched and has walked more than twice as many batters as he has struck out (11:5).
In a classy move by the Cubs, it looks like Wood will get to pitch one more time in front of Cubs fans before he hangs it up.
Wood was the Cubs first round pick in the 1995 MLB draft and would make his MLB debut in 1998. In his fifth big league appearance, on May 6, 1998, Wood set a National League record and tied a major league record held by Roger Clemens (and later Randy Johnson) by striking out 20 Houston Astros on a one-hit complete game shutout.
Wood won 13 games that season and was named NL Rookie of the Year as the Cubs won the NL Wild Card.
However, injuries would soon become Wood's constant companion. He missed the entire 1999 season due to Tommy John surgery. In all, Wood would be placed on the Disabled List 16 times including earlier this season due to a sore shoulder.
His best season came in 2003 when Wood won a career high 14 games and led the NL in strikeouts with 266 as he and Mark Prior led the team to the NL Central Division title. Of course, the Cubs were five outs away from going to the World Series in Game 6 of the NLCS until Luis Castillo hit that ball down the leftfield line. What is forgotten is that there was a Game 7 which Wood started. He even hit a two-run homerun in the second inning to tie the game at 3-3. Unfortunately, the Marlins took the lead in the fifth and Wood was removed in the sixth having given up seven runs. There would be no joy in Wrigleyville and Steve Bartman had nothing to do with it.
The Cubs converted Wood into a reliever late in the 2007 season and in 2008 would record 34 saves for the Cubs who won another NL Central title before being dispatched by the Dodgers in the NLDS.
After more than a decade in a Cubs uniform, Wood signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Indians prior to the 2009 season. However, Wood would be traded to the New York Yankees in mid-2010 where he pitched effectively as an eighth inning set up man for Mariano Rivera. But after the Yankees declined to sign him in 2011, Wood returned to Wrigley.
If not for injuries, Wood could have been amongst the all-time greats. But he certainly had flashes of greatness and never made excuses when things weren't so great which made him one of the most popular players in Cubs history.
UPDATE: Wood came on in the bottom of the eighth to face Dayan Viciedo and struck him out on a curveball and bid baseball adieu. He was greeted at the dugout steps by his son and teammates amidst a standing ovation. Now that's ending things on a high note. Well, not completely. The Cubs lost 3-2.