Kerry Wood will have new role with Cubs, hopes other ex-stars return
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com September 23, 2012 7:29PM
Former star Kerry Wood, who was honored by the Cubs on Sunday, has a likely future with the team as an on-field instructor. | Tasos Katopodis~Getty Images
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:21AM
Kerry Wood will have a new role with the Cubs in the future, likely as an on-field instructor. But Wood hopes he isn’t the only player from his era who comes back to the team.
Wood would like to see Sammy Sosa as well as Mark Grace, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg find a home here again.
‘‘I get those situations and how it worked out,’’ Wood said of Sandberg and Maddux separating from the team. ‘‘Hopefully we get them back. And it wouldn’t be bad to see Sammy come back. He did a lot for this team and the city.
‘‘It’s part of the history of the team, but they have more to offer than just that. And Grace, too.
‘‘Sammy and [Mark] McGwire practically saved baseball. Sammy did tremendous things for this town, and one mistake at the end shouldn’t determine his future.’’
Wood was honored Sunday by the Cubs before they lost 6-3 in the rubber game of their three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent 12 (excluding 1999, when he was out for the year) of his 14 major-league seasons with the Cubs.
Sosa and McGwire broke Roger Maris’ home-run record in 1998, when Wood was named National League rookie of the year. Sosa won MVP honors that season with 66 homers and 158 RBI, and the Cubs made the playoffs as the wild card.
Sosa’s 13-year career with the Cubs ended on a sour note when he left the park during one of the last games of the 2004 season without permission. He was traded in the offseason to the Baltimore Orioles.
Sosa played in 2005 for the Orioles and finished his career in 2007 with the Texas Rangers. Steroid allegations have tainted his reputation.
The Cubs chose not to re-sign Grace, who spent 13 years with the team, after the 2000 season. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was part of their World Series title team in 2001. He retired after ’03 and has been a broadcaster with the D-backs. He was suspended this month after being hit with a second drunken-driving charge.
Maddux had two tenures with the Cubs and was a special assistant to former general manager Jim Hendry after his retirement in 2008. But he left the organization after Hendry was fired and works with the Rangers and brother Mike, who’s Texas’ pitching coach.
Hall of Famer Sandberg left the organization after 2010 after being passed over for the Cubs’ managerial job after four seasons managing in the farm system. Sandberg also was passed over by Theo Epstein when he became president of the organization last year. He returned to the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 2011 and has been managing its Class AAA affiliate (Lehigh Valley). Sandberg is considered a candidate to succeed Phillies manager Charlie Manuel in the future.
Wood said he hopes to have some kind of role in uniform with the Cubs next season but said keeping a link to other past stars is important.
‘‘You can never fill the role of Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins,’’ Wood said. ‘‘But [Sosa, Sandberg, Maddux and Grace] have something to offer.’’