Kerry Wood’s retirement doesn’t mean he’s done with Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 19, 2012 8:34PM
Daughter Katie and son Justin hug Kerry Wood after he announced his retirement during a news conference Saturday at Wrigley Field. | AP
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:33PM
When Kerry Wood made his retirement official and formal — with suit and tie and his family by his side — Saturday at Wrigley Field, the one thing that seemed sure about his future is that he’s not going away.
Whether his future comes with an ‘‘adviser’’ or ‘‘assistant to the general manager’’ title, Cubs president Theo Epstein said Wood’s next job is waiting for him when he’s ready to go back to work.
‘‘Those discussions started last year,’’ Espstein said. ‘‘We talked about it last year, what player development looks like, scouting, the front office. And, obviously, he still has a role to play in the community.
‘‘But right now, he has to take time to just be a dad. . . . When the time is right, we’ll talk about it.’’
Said Wood, whose lack of a buyout clause in his 2013 contract
option speaks to his relationship with the organization: ‘‘I’m not real concerned about it. I think they know I want to be here. I think they want me to be around. So we’ll get to that point.’’
Wood spent much of his brief public address thanking a list of teammates, managers, coaches, trainers, clubhouse guys and friends.
Co-owner Laura Ricketts represented the Cubs at the podium, with chairman Tom Ricketts conspicuously absent a few days after reports of the family’s involvement in a proposed Super PAC smear campaign against President Barack Obama.
‘‘You are very much loved by Cubs fans everywhere. You are very much loved by the Cubs family. You will always be a Cub,’’ said Laura Ricketts, who presented Wood with a framed photograph of him embracing son Justin at the dugout steps after his career-ending strikeout Friday of Dayan Viciedo and with the 20-strikeout flag that flew above the stadium on his final day as a Cub.
The flag commemorates Wood’s record-tying 20-strikeout game against the Houston Astros as a rookie on May 6, 1998.
Wood thanked former teammates such as Kevin Tapani and Joe Girardi, former managers Jim Riggleman and Dusty Baker, former pitching coaches Oscar Acosta and Larry Rothschild, the Ricketts family, Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer and longtime GM Jim Hendry.
‘‘And I need to thank Ron Santo for teaching me what it meant to be a Cub,’’ Wood said.
That’s part of the role Epstein envisions for Wood.
‘‘Hopefully, he’ll continue to have input for these young players and what it means to be a Cub,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s a first-class person and a class act. You don’t get a reputation like that by faking it, especially when you’re in one place for so long. He’s the genuine article.’’