Chicago Cubs

Kerry Wood Calls It Quits: A Sad End to a Once-Promising Career

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 05: Kerry Wood #34 of the Chicago Cubs greets teammates during player introductions before the opening day game against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on April 5, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Nationals defeated the Cubs 2-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Steven SlivkaCorrespondent IIIMay 18, 2012

After a disappointing career that was full of such potential, Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood has decided to retire.

It's a sad end to a pitcher who dazzled Major League Baseball after his fifth career start where he struck out 20 batters and threw a one-hitter against the Houston Astros in 1998.

It was the highlight of a young career destroyed by numerous injuries. During his 13 seasons in the MLB, Wood was on the disabled list 14 times, including missing the entire 1999 season due to Tommy John Surgery.

Wood also had problems with strained triceps, a torn rotator cuff and shoulder discomfort among several other injuries that plagued him throughout his entire career.

The only consistent element to his game was his ability to land on the DL. It was an unfortunate reality for a pitcher that most felt was the next big thing for MLB.

His inability to stay healthy landed him in the bullpen in Chicago in 2007.

In 2010, Wood left the "friendly confines" of Wrigley Field and headed for the American League spending brief stints with the Indians and the Yankees.

When Wood appeared in Wrigley Field for the first time in an opposing uniform as a member of the Indians in 2010, he was greeted to a standing ovation by the Cubs faithful who had been behind him so passionately since 1998.

It really is sad to see Wood say goodbye to baseball; not so much because he's walking away, but because he hangs his hat up with only 86 wins after such a phenomenal start to what was meant to be a long and successful career.

His career was long but far from successful.

Wood walks away from MLB as the fastest pitcher to reach 1000 strikeouts in games pitched, (134) and innings pitched (835).

Just like Yao Ming and Eric Lindros, Wood had the talent and the determination to be extremely successful but was unable to reach his fullest potential because of injuries.

Wood only had four seasons where he won more than eight games and hadn't done so since his career high 14-win season in 2003.

In that same year, Wood hit a three-run homer off Florida Marlins starter Brad Penny in Game 7 of the NLCS to tie the game 3-3.

Wood's homer was the first by a pitcher in the NLCS since 1984, but the Cubs lost the pennant-clinching game, 9-6.

Despite his constant trips to the DL, Cubs fans will always remember Wood for his work ethic and determination to make the "lovable losers" World Series contenders.

May 6, 1998, the day that defined Wood's persona will always be something Cubs fans can hold on to. It was arguably one of the greatest performances in the history of MLB, and to see a young Wood in his prime was a sight that fans can hang their hats on.

His fastball was simply unhittable and his nasty curveball had batters quivering in the dugout. Wood will still be regarded as one of the most iconic Cubs of all-time and leaves the game as more of a martyr than anything else.

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