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Kerry Wood

Cleveland Indians — No. 34
Relief pitcher
Born: June 16, 1977 (1977-06-16) (age 32)
Irving, Texas
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
April 12, 1998 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Win-Loss     80-64
Earned run average     3.67
Strikeouts     1,470
Saves     54
Career highlights and awards

Kerry Lee Wood (born June 16, 1977) is an American Major League Baseball closer for the Cleveland Indians. Wood recorded over 200 strikeouts in each of four seasons between 1998 and 2003, with a high of 266 in 2003.

In recent years, he has had three serious arm injuries, and only started a total of 14 major league games from Opening Day 2005 through the middle of 2006. Wood returned to the Cubs during the 2007 season as a relief pitcher, and served as the team's closer in 2008.


Early life

Wood became a high school phenom while attending MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, for his first three seasons of high school baseball. He continued his domination of batters at Grand Prairie High School in his final season as a high school player.[1]

Professional career

Chicago Cubs


The Chicago Cubs drafted Wood as the fourth overall selection in the 1995 Amateur Draft. He spent three years playing in the Minor Leagues. His best season in the Minors came in 1996, when he posted a 10-2 record for the Daytona Cubs.[2] He also played for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.[2] In 1997 he led all minor league pitchers in walks, with 131.[2]


A prospect in the minor leagues, Wood made his first appearance in the Major Leagues on April 12, 1998. In his fifth career start, on May 6, 1998, he threw a one-hit, no walk, 20-strikeout shutout against the Houston Astros, tying Roger Clemens' record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game and breaking Bill Gullickson's single-game rookie record of 18 strikeouts in 1980. To date, Wood and Bob Feller are the only two pitchers to strike out their age in one game (at age 17, Feller struck out 17 batters in one game in 1936). Wood allowed only two baserunners: an infield single by Ricky Gutierrez, and a hit by pitch of Craig Biggio. The single, off third basemenKevin Orie's glove, was close enough that some fans lobbied to have it changed in scoring to an error, which would have given Wood a no-hitter. The game is considered by many to be the most dominant pitching performance in the history of baseball.[3]

Wood finished the 1998 season with a 13–6 record, and despite missing the last month of the season with elbow soreness easily won the National League Rookie of the Year award. He pitched one game in the playoffs, losing against the Atlanta Braves.


During Spring Training of 1999, Wood underwent Tommy John surgery to repair damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He missed the entire season to rehab from the surgery.

Wood returned in 2000 and struggled to an 8–7 record, but the following season, he returned to form. In 2001, Wood began a string of three straight seasons in which he began to once again show the promise he displayed as the young phenom just a few years earlier. He went 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA. The following season (2002), Wood finished 12–11 with a 3.67 ERA, but perhaps more important was the fact he didn't miss a start all year long, setting career highs with 213.6 innings pitched and 33 starts. He rang up 217 strike outs each season.

In 2003, Wood continued to improve, setting career highs with 266 strikeouts, 14 wins (as part of a 14–11 record), a 3.20 ERA, and 2 shutouts. He threw the fastest fastball in the majors among starters, averaging 95.4 miles per hour.[3] He also walked 100 batters and surrendered 24 home runs, also career highs, but was selected as a National League All-Star and helped lead the Cubs to the playoffs.

Wood earned two wins in the Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves and was the starter in Game 3 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, which the Cubs won in extra innings. However, the Cubs lost in seven games to the eventual World Series champion Florida Marlins. In the decisive Game 7, Wood hit the first home run by a pitcher in a NLCS game since another Cub, Rick Sutcliffe, did so in Game 1 in 1984. However, the Marlins won the game 9-6. Wood was the losing pitcher and the Cubs were eliminated.


Wood went just 8-9 during the 2004 season and was sidelined for nearly two months with a strained triceps.

In 2005, Wood continued to struggle. On August 31, 2005, Wood underwent surgery and missed the remainder of the season. During Spring Training in 2006, Wood suffered several injuries which required an additional surgery (on his knee) and time off shortly after that to recover from injuries sustained falling out of a hot tub. On May 18, 2006, Wood returned to the Cubs' pitching rotation when he started and lost a home game against the Washington Nationals. In June, Wood returned to the DL with a sore shoulder. The following month, the Cubs announced that Wood had sustained a partially torn rotator cuff which was likely to keep him from pitching again for the rest of the year. At the end of the 2006 season, the Cubs exercised their option on Wood's contract and bought out the remaining $13M.


Wood pitching for the Chicago Cubs in 2008.

With his long history of injuries and inability to stay in the starting rotation, Wood accepted the Cubs offer to return as a relief pitcher 2007. Wood attempted to sustain a regular throwing schedule and appearances during Spring Training games. However, Wood was placed on the 15 day DL with soreness in his elbow and was then moved to the 60 day DL. He began playing catch on May 21. In his first rehab assignment in Cubs Rookie Ball, he struck out all three batters he faced. On July 24, he pitched 1 inning with the Single-A Peoria Chiefs, throwing 9 pitches. He made back-to-back appearances on July 26 and July 27, throwing his fastball between 92-94 mph with no discomfort.

The Cubs activated Wood from the 60-Day Disabled List on August 3, causing many to believe that he would make his actual return on that day.[4] In the seventh inning, however, Lou Piniella opted to send Bob Howry to the mound, and most fans, eager to see Kerry back on the hill, mistakenly gave Howry a standing ovation, only to realize moments later it was actually not Wood.[5] Piniella later stated he wanted Wood to receive a "softer landing", or in other words, make his return in a game where the Cubs have a comfortable lead over their opponents.[6] Wood made his return on August 5, with the Cubs trailing the New York Mets by four runs.[7] He pitched a single inning, during which he allowed one hit, and struck out another batter.[7] Piniella praised Wood's performance, stating "He threw the ball real good", and "His breaking ball had some bite to it, and he threw it up there about 93-94, about what we expected".[8] He remained healthy appearing in 22 games and posting a 1-1 record with a solid 3.33 ERA.

He was generally limited to one inning per outing, not appearing in games on back to back days, though he did pitch in both halves of a double header on September 15. Wood was a major contributor to the Cub's NL Central Division Championship down the stretch in late September, earning a win and 8 holds. Wood filed for free-agency on November 11, 2007, though he suggested that he wanted to remain in pinstripes for the 2008 season. Despite multi-year offers from other teams, Wood agreed to a one year, $4.2 million deal with the Cubs.[9]

Wood, along with Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol, competed for the role as the Cubs' closer after Ryan Dempster was moved to the starting rotation.[9] After posting a 2.84 ERA in the spring, Wood won the job. He recorded his first career save April 3, 2008 with a win over the Brewers.[4][5] Wood has since recorded 34 saves in 39 opportunities, 82 strike-outs and a 1.12 WHIP. He was selected to the 2008 MLB All-Star Game as a relief pitcher on July 6, 2008 along with six other teammates.[10]

Wood was placed on the 15-day DL on July 24, 2008 with a blister on his right index finger.[11] He returned to throw a scoreless inning against the Houston Astros on August 5, 2008.

On November 13, 2008, after acquiring closer Kevin Gregg from the Florida Marlins, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry announced that the organization did not plan on resigning Wood.[12] He had previously requested a multi-year contract with the team, but was deferred due to financial reasons. Wood stated he wished to remain with the Cubs, but also wanted to continue playing baseball.[13]

Cleveland Indians

On December 13, 2008, Wood signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. [14]

Cubs fans showed their appreciation for him by giving him a standing ovation when the Cleveland Indians played at Wrigley Field on June 19. [15]

MLB records

  • Fastest to reach 1000 strikeouts in MLB history (in appearances): 134 games
  • Fastest to reach 1000 strikeouts in MLB history (in innings pitched): 853 IP
  • Strikeouts in a 9-inning game: 20 on May 6, 1998 (tied record with Roger Clemens)

Personal life

Wood is married to the former Sarah Pates of Waukegan, Illinois.[16] The couple has one son, Justin Dean, who was born in 2006.[17] Until 2008, the family resided in Old Town neighborhood of Chicago.[18]

While playing for the Cubs, The Woods hosted a celebrity bowling tournament called Kerry Wood's Strike Zone, which also featured a silent auction that raised over two million dollars.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ The Official Site of The Chicago Cubs: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  2. ^ a b The Baseball Cube, Kerry Wood - Pitching Statistics, Retrieved on August 5, 2007.
  3. ^ My Right Arm - New York Times
  4. ^ Muskat, Carrie, Wood likely to return on Friday (August 1, 2007),, Retrieved on August 2, 2007.
  5. ^ Gano, Rick, NY Mets 6, Chi Cubs 2 (August 3, 2007), Yahoo! Sports, Retrieved on August 3, 2007.
  6. ^ Ladewski , Paul, Wood waiting in wings (August 4, 2007), Daily Southtown, Retrieved on August 4, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Associated Press, Kerry Wood returns, pitches a scoreless inning for Cubs against Mets (August 5, 2007),, Retrieved on August 5, 2007.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Paul, Kerry Wood back in the fray (August 6, 2007), Chicago Tribune, Retrieved on August 6, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Muskat, Carrie. "Wood to return with Cubs in 2008". Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  10. ^ "Four Red Sox, three Cubs to start in 2008 All-Star Game". Associated Press (ESPN). 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  11. ^ Muskat, Carrie (2008-07-27). "Wood's blister problem remains". Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  12. ^ Sullivan, Paul (2008-11-13). "Cubs say goodbye to Kerry Wood". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  13. ^ "Wood credits Cubs GM Hendry's honesty, but said leaving the team was 'bittersweet'". Associated Press (ESPN). 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  14. ^ Indians sign free agent RHP Wood
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "JockBio: Kerry Wood Biography:". Black Book Partners ( 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  17. ^ Muskat, Carrie (2006-02-13). "Mailbag: Wood growing strong again". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  18. ^ Rodkin, Dennis (2008-02-20). "Housing Bulletin—Kerry Wood Takes a Loss". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  19. ^ Muskat, Carrie (2005-11-08). "Unique items available for Wood auction". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  20. ^ Mitchell, Fred (2006-05-25). "Guillen, Ditka are 2 of a kind". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jon Lieber
Chicago Cubs Opening Day starting pitcher
2003 – 2004
Succeeded by
Carlos Zambrano
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Scott Rolen
National League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Scott Williamson
Preceded by
Nomar Garciaparra
Baseball America Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Carlos Beltran
Preceded by
Scott Rolen
Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie
Succeeded by
Preston Wilson
Preceded by
Randy Johnson
National League Strikeout Champion
Succeeded by
Randy Johnson

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