Tag: Kerry Wood

Former Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood Reportedly Finds Body in Belmont Harbor

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood reportedly found the body of a dead man while paddle boarding in the city’s Belmont Harbor on Monday.

According to a report by Rosemary Regina Sobol of the Chicago Tribune, Wood made the discovery at 11:10 a.m. while enjoying a day on the water. The 36-year-old Wood then notified police, who took over the investigation.

“Mr. Wood immediately notified 911 of this discovery,” said the police report obtained by the Tribune.

The identity of the man has not been released to the press at this time. However, the victim is described in the Tribune story as a 40-year-old man who had gone missing from a local nursing home in June. Police were able to identify him thanks to a tag from the nursing home on the victim’s arm. 

An initial autopsy performed on the body was inconclusive. Examiners will further inspect the body to determine what caused the death. 

Wood, who retired from baseball midway through the 2012 season, is one of the more beloved members of the Cubs franchise in recent memory. A flame-throwing ace in the mold of Roger Clemens early in his career, Wood and fellow youngster Mark Prior were supposed to the foundation of an impending Chicago dynasty.

However, arm injuries quickly derailed those plans. Wood underwent Tommy John surgery in 1999, beginning a process of never-ending starts and stops. He was in and out of the Chicago rotation for much of the early 2000s, before eventually deciding to become a reliever in 2007. The last few years of Wood’s career were spent in the bullpen, where he enjoyed intermittent success as a closer.

Wood also played for the Indians and Yankees from 2009-10. 

After retiring with the Cubs, Wood joined the Cubs as a spring-training instructor, working with the pitching staff and young players this year.

The Cubs have not released a statement on the matter at this time. Through his wife Sarah, the Wood family declined to comment for the Tribune story. 

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Chicago Cubs: Reflecting on Mark Prior, 2003 and What Should Have Been

Chicago Cubs fans will always remember 2003.  Most will not have particularly fond memories of that season.  With the 10 year anniversary of that season just around the corner, Cubs fans still think about what might have been without injuries and that wretched curse.

Oh, yes.  The curse.  I, for one, have never believed in it.  However, after spending last summer cringing at the product the Cubs put between the lines, maybe there is something about Billy Sianis and that doggone goat.

But 2003—that was different.  It was a solid team defensively, well, at least in the infield.  It was a good offensive team, well, at least in the outfield.  This was when Sammy Sosa still had adoring fans in right field who rose to their feet when he sprinted out to begin the game.  The fans weren’t worried about corked bats or corked biceps.

Kenny Lofton came over to play center field and energized the team.  Moises Alou, he of the infamous play along the left field wall, seemed to be an ageless wonder with his potent bat.  No one even cared that he peed on his hands to toughen them up.  But it was the pitching that really mattered.  

The Cubs had the best young rotation in baseball.

Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Clement.  

The collapse in the playoffs against the Florida Marlins has been well documented.  The disappointment at the time was palpable—but there still seemed to be hope.  Again, the Cubs had the best young rotation in baseball.  They would be back in the playoffs.  They would be the team to beat for the next 10 years.  With a pitching staff such as they had—anything was possible.  

Kerry Wood had come up as a phenom from the state of Texas.  He had already thrown what was arguably the most impressive game in the history of baseball, with the 20 strikeouts and only one hit in a shutout against the Houston Astros.  He had successfully come back from Tommy John surgery.  He was primed to be a staff ace.  

Carlos Zambrano was a very green young pitcher who some felt had the best arm on the entire staff. He could be absolutely dominant at times.  In 2003, we didn’t yet know he was as crazy as he was talented.

Matt Clement, he of the weird beard.  While no one was sharpening their pencils to nominate him to the Hall of Fame one day, he certainly seemed more than serviceable as a fourth starter.  In fact, he would have probably been a two on many teams. 

But Mark Prior he was the special one.  He was the guy who was going to be the Cubs Tom Seaver with the silky smooth delivery.  He was going to be the Cubs Don Drysdale with his impressive command of the strike zone.  He was going to be the Cubs Greg Maddux…nah, I’ll leave that one alone.  There are already enough regrets going on here.  

There seemed to be no reason to doubt Mark Prior was going to be the best pitcher in the National League for the rest of the decade.  No one could have known in 2003 that Mark Prior would never again return to the form he showed that season.  His fall, due to shoulder injuries, is the most disappointing of all the disappoints from 2003.

Some blamed Dusty Baker for Kerry Wood and Mark Prior’s subsequent injuries.  Is that fair?  Maybe. Probably not.  No matter, what happened happened, and the Cubs have never rebounded from that season.

It’s tough to be a Cubs fan.  Perhaps there is nothing tougher than thinking back about what could have been with that early nineties pitching staff.    

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14 Most Notoriously Soft Players Baseball Players in the Last 25 Years

After reading through these slides, your appreciation for the “Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. will only grow.

Major League Baseball boasts the longest and most grueling season in professional sports, so injuries are undoubtedly expected.

But there’s a fine line between injuries and injury-plagued players.

I’m not talking “soft” in regards to attitude or style of play, but rather health and being able to stay on the field and perform at a high level.

I’m sure there’s a long list of other players who belong on this list, but here are 14 of the most oft-injured players in the past 25 years.

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Cubs’ Kerry Wood Proves to Be a Giant on Wrigley Mound

It seems more and more these days one can turn to the sports section of the newspaper on any given morning, or tune in to SportsCenter at any time and be assaulted by stories highlighting professional athletes, baseball players in particular, engaging in behaviors that are not only egregious and loathsome but unfortunate fodder for self righteous pundits and cynics alike—angry critics who claim that sports and their lionized idols are nothing more than a blight on our culture and embody an egocentric, selfish entitlement that threatens to fray the very fabric of all that we as an enlightened society hold in such high regard.

I suppose on most days it is difficult to refute their assertions.  

There’s a lot to be concerned with. Roger Clemens is still embroiled in the shameless defense of his alleged steroid use and subsequent perjury charge. Brett Lawrie is throwing helmets at umpires, Ozzie Guillen continues his pugilistic attack on the media, addressing reporters with a maelstrom of expletives, and the controversial Ryan Braun suspension appeal has everyone scratching their heads and wondering what the heck is going on here. 

Then Friday night, Kerry Wood trotted out to the mound at Wrigley Field, the same mound where 14 years earlier he struck out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth major league start, and logic, order and humanity was restored. 

Thank you Kerry Wood. 

No, it wasn’t the poetic justice of the strikeout artist Wood, who has been clocked at 100 MPH in his career on several occasions, fanning the one and only batter he would face on a vintage Kerry Wood breaking ball. It wasn’t the impromptu gathering on the mound by his teammates after the swing and a miss or the stirring ovation from the raucous crowd as manager Dale Sveum motioned to the bullpen, signifying that Wood’s work for the night had been completed. No. All of that played out perfectly, like a well crafted script, but the best was yet to come. 

What made everything in the world of baseball okay again, even if it is just a transitory respite, was the poignant moment that came seconds after Wood tipped his hat to the crowd and walked off that hallowed mound for the last time. 

As Wood approached the Cubs dugout, walking deliberately through a deluge of cheers raining down all around him, his young son Justin ran onto the field and leaped into his arms. What ensued was heartfelt embrace that engendered chills up every spine and brought tears to even the most stoic observers’ eyes.


It is moments like these that remind us why we love sports, baseball in particular. 

Baseball is the ultimate metaphor for life. All of us struggle with the fair and foul, and more often than not, the difference between the two is as negligible and capricious as a prodigious fly that hooks to one side of the foul pole in favor of the other.

Reaching base safely, one step at a time, beckons to all who have devoted their lives to the gradual attainment of a lofty goal. 

And which one of us has not, at one moment in time, thwarted the curveballs and bad bounces that were thrown our way and experienced the exhilaration of that one perfect moment in our lives—when the confluence of forces that usually conspire against us abate and we can “touch ‘em all” as everyone else watches us in our moment of unadulterated splendor.

It is this human pageantry, the kind that unfolded at Wrigley Field on Friday night, that calls to us. It speaks to us on such a tender, sentimental level that it is hard to deny its veracity.  It is human drama at its very best. 

Thank you, Kerry Wood, for reminding  folks that professional athletes are more like us than not—and for restoring our faith that many of these professional athletes, although privileged in ways we can only imagine, are still grounded by things to which we can all relate. 

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Kerry Wood: Detroit Tigers Fan Reminisces About Pitcher’s Debut at Tiger Stadium

I remember the Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs interleague baseball game in 1998 like it were yesterday.

It was June 25. And my friends and I had recently graduated high school at Southgate Anderson High School in suburban Detroit.

This was the second full season that Major League Baseball had implemented interleague play.

While I was always excited to attend a Tiger game, watching my home team play the Cubs made for an even more fun night.

Five summers before, my father took me to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field. I watched in horror as Orlando Merced of the Pittsburgh Pirates smacked a game-winning, two-run home run off Shawn Boskie.  

While disappointed, I found solace in pictures of our drive to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, prior to our journey to Wrigley.

Back to 1998, with very little money and no ballgames to play on our schedules, we piled into my friends beat-up Chevy sedan and hit I-75 northward toward Tiger Stadium.

It was nearly first pitch by the time my friend halted his squealing chunk of metal in a decrepit parking lot, just a stone’s throw from at least a one mile walk from the ticket office.

Like madmen, we hustled to the ticket booth hoping tickets were still available for the game. While the Tigers were not doing so well at 35-45, 30,000 Tigers fans came out to the ballpark that night.

For some fans, this was perhaps one of but a few opportunities remaining to watch a game at this white palace at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. It was no secret this stadium was on its last legs, as chipping bright blue paint inside the stadium could attest.

Add insult to injury, the once-powerful offense the Tigers assembled during the mid-1990s was no more. Shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whittaker had recently retired, leaving a gaping hole in Detroit’s hearts.

Mickey Tettleton had taken his powerful swing to the Texas Rangers. And Cecil Fielder, who thumped home runs 50 and 51 on the final day of the 1990 season at Yankee Stadium, had been traded to the New York Yankees for Ruben Sierra and Matt Drews.  

Rob Deer, Dan Gladden and Skeeter Barnes had also handed in their badges to the Tigers front office.

Yet for all the carnage, Tony Clark and Bobby Higginson still roamed the hallowed grounds for the Tigers. These two ballplayers gave the hometown fans some hope for a positive future.

Fortunately for my friends and I, the $5 center field bleacher seat tickets we wanted were still available. With hot dogs and Cokes in hand, we made our way to our favorite part of the ballpark. We loved sitting 440 feet from home plate for two reasons. First, we could heckle opposing outfielders. Second, homers looked truly majestic as they sailed past blue steel.

To say we were excited for the ballgame against the Cubs was an understatement. My friends and I had the rare opportunity to watch one of baseball’s most electrifying young pitchers at the time take to the hill for the Cubs.

His name was Kerry Wood.

Wood was our generation’s version of Stephen Strasburg—without all the social media buzz.

This 6’4” flame-throwing Texas native burst onto the scene in 1998, when he struck out 20 Houston Astros hitters in a complete game shutout at Wrigley Field.    

Coming into the game against the Tigers, Wood was 7-3 with 118 strikeouts.

Having heard the hype about Wood, we were anxious to see for this growing legend with our own eyes.

Now, sometimes youth combined with adrenaline can equal delusion.

Although the Tigers were terrible, we were convinced our home team would crush Wood that night.

That was until we heard Wood’s first fastball hiss through the hot summer air, before thumping into catcher Tyler Houston’s glove.

My friends and I just looked at one another in amazement, as we heard the fastball from center field.

This would be the first of many times Wood would do this for the Cubs that night. He ended up striking out eight Tigers in six innings of work.

But for the record, Wood did not leave this game unscathed.

Damian Easley took him deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Tigers added two more runs off Wood in the bottom of the sixth, when Geronimo Berroa doubled Bobby Higginson and Luis Gonzalez home.

Wood went on to surrender three earned runs on four hits in a no-decision for the Cubs.

The Tigers ended up winning the game 6-4 that night, thanks to a three-run homer by Tony Clark.

I must say as a baseball fan, I truly enjoyed watching Wood pitch at Tiger Stadium. After watching Wood, my friends and I thought he would easily go on to a Hall of Fame career.

This was especially true after Wood finished the 1998 season with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in just 166.2 innings of work. He also won National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Sadly for Wood, injuries would plague the rest of his career, as he was never able to find his groove.

Although some consider Wood’s career 86-75 record, 1,581 strikeouts and 3.67 ERA respectable, others are convinced Wood by no means lived up to high expectations.

To this, I will let others debate this over the course of the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I will continue to reminisce about Wood’s performance at Tiger Stadium that night.

Because frankly, it is a night that will stick with me forever.  


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Kerry Wood and the Chicago Cubs: It’s Time to Part Ways

Kerry Wood was a great story in his day, and is among the most beloved Chicago Cubs, but his expiration date has past. The only reason he was brought back was to appease the fans and the owner.

Wood garnered the loudest ovation at the Cub Convention with the “surprise” announcement that he had just signed a contract.

It was a public relations coup, but not so much for the parent club. On a team not expected to go anywhere, why bring back a soon-to-be 35-year-old setup-man?

Wouldn’t it be better to spend that $3 million on someone who could help you in the future? Maybe develop a young pitcher into that role who will be there when you can hopefully contend in a few years.

It was good to see Wood have a good outing on Friday. After his disastrous earlier outings that blew two winnable games, if Wood is going to be an asset to the Cubs, it’s as a trade chip.

I couldn’t find anything on his contract about if there is a no-trade clause or not, but the only way his signing made sense from a team standpoint is if there wasn’t.

Wood is an iconic Cub, along with the likes of Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg. Ever since he struck out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth major-league start, he’s been a darling at Wrigley Field.

He looked like he was on the way to a Hall-of-Fame career after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1998, but injuries derailed him. He became the poster boy for unfulfilled expectations.

Along with Mark Prior, he almost led the Cubs to the World Series in 2003, but he lost Game 7 against the Florida Marlins that year in the NLCS. That started the downfall of the team and seemingly his career.

He’s no longer a starter because of the stress it put on his arm. Going to the bullpen saved his career, but he’s been beset by injuries on a regular basis.

Wood is a reminder of everything that went wrong for the organization, and in a way, everything that has been wrong with the Cubs for over a hundred years.

Cubs fans don’t need a mascot. That’s all Wood is for them now.

If he pitches better, he might help them win a few games, but they’re better off losing.

Since baseball changed what you can and can’t do this year when it comes to signing players and offering bonuses, they might as well be real bad so they can get a top draft pick next year.

That’s the future—not Kerry Wood.

It’s time to stop the pandering and playing to the crowd and time to start getting on with the business of building a team.

Cubs fans aren’t buying losing 8-1 anymore as being a good day as long as Sammy Sosa hit a homer. The culture has changed, as have the prices. The Cubs have the third-highest-priced ticket in baseball.

That’s too much money to pay to watch the past. If you want Kerry Wood in the organization, hire him as a coach or for the broadcast team. I’m all for that.

But for the future of the Cubs, please say goodbye to him as a baseball player.

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Chicago Cubs Signing of Kerry Wood Smacks of Pandering

With a flare for the dramatic, Theo Epstein pulled a Kerry Wood out of his hat, appeasing the throng of Cubs fans on hand at the annual Cubs Convention. Theo really knows how to play a crowd, but this move smacked of the past regime throwing the fans a bone.

Listening to Epstein talk, I thought he was above pandering, but now I’m not so sure.

Cubs fans universally love Kid K, but he’s no longer the phenom who struck out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth major league start.

If you watched him pitch that day, you would have assumed the Hall of Fame would be polishing up a bust of him for his future nomination. Unfortunately, his career was plagued by injuries, and Wood became the poster boy of all the bad luck that is the Chicago Cubs.

Do Cubs fans need a mascot? I thought that was Ronnie Woo Woo.

I love Kerry Wood as much as the next guy, but where are the Cubs going next year?

Was this a Theo Epstein move, or was it dictated by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who is a big fan and wants him somewhere in the organization after his career ends?

Since Theo supposedly has autonomy over the roster, maybe he was trying to win favor with his boss, even though he doesn’t need to.

Perhaps this was a marketing ploy to keep the fans coming through the turnstiles despite the fact the team will probably not be contending for anything this year.

But isn’t the front office the attraction? Do the Cubs have a bigger star than Theo? Won’t the fans pay the freight knowing there is now hope for the future?

I know Theo’s not performing on the field, but isn’t the thought of him there enough to keep the crowds coming?

Maybe because Wood signed below market value last year when former GM Jim Hendry signed him to a $1.5 million contract, the current brass felt they owed him something.

Epstein said he wasn’t going to make any moves like bringing back a fan favorite if it didn’t help the team on the field.

You can say Wood makes them better, but at what cost? His contract is for $3 million with a club option. That sounds like a lot more than they initially offered him.

Why did the numbers change, and why did it suddenly become so important to bring Wood on board?

Was it done strictly for the buzz and good feeling it created at the convention? You have to admit the timing was perfect.

It could be that Wood is the kind of veteran to teach the young players the right way to be a professional. Management might think that is more valuable than what he contributes on the mound.

There was talk earlier in the week that the Cubs were going to cut ties with Wood and possibly bring in Jason Varitek from the Red Sox for his leadership abilities. When that came out in the local daily, fans were incensed that they would bring in an outsider at the expense of their beloved Wood.

Did Theo buck to the pressure?

I would hope not.

He’s shown the guts to finally blow up the team and start from scratch. I admire that, and I’ve been waiting for the Cubs to do that my entire life.

He’s preaching patience, because doing things the right way takes time. It’s taken 103 years of doing things the wrong way, so it’s not too much to ask for a little patience when somebody’s doing it right.

Just don’t cry at the trade deadline when Theo sends Woody to a contender for a prospect that might be a part of the Cubs finally winning.

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2011 MLB Exclusive Interview: Cleveland Indians’ Chris "Pure Rage" Perez

Cleveland Indians fans have had, to say the least, a rough few years. The Tribe haven’t been able to win more than 69 games the last two seasons and 2008 only saw a .500 winning percentage. Trades and injuries have changed the vibe in Cleveland from when they won the AL Central in 2007. But even with this fall from grace, Indians fans can look to a brighter future, starting with their closer, Chris Perez.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with TheFantasyFix.com. I know our readers would love to know a little bit more about yourself.

TFF: Did you play other sports growing up? 

CP: I played soccer, basketball, football, volleyball and pretty much anything else that involved competing. When I was about 13, I concentrated solely on baseball.

TFF: While growing up, were there any professional baseball players you tried to emulate?

CP: Yes, Frank Thomas when he was with the Chicago White Sox. He was one of the most dangerous hitters during that period and his spring training was in nearby Sarasota, so I got to see him quite a bit. I was also a catcher most of my life and I really liked watching Pudge Rodriguez (he’s still playing!) because he had the best arm I’ve ever seen.

TFF: Being a catcher must really help you understand the Pitcher/Catcher relationship.

TFF: What did you major in at “The U?” Ideally, what would you like to do after baseball?

CP: My major was criminology with a minor in anthropology. Ideally I wanted to be an FBI profiler. If you ever watched the TV show Criminal Minds, that is exactly what I wanted to do.

TFF: On a side note, as a former Hurricane, how do you feel about the Al Golden hire for the football team?

CP: I have a little mixed feelings with the Al Golden hire. On one hand, he won at Temple which is hard to do. On the other, he really doesn’t have a very long coaching track record at the D-1 level. So I really hope he is the guy, because he’s young enough to be there for a very long time. I guess I’m a optimistic pessimist.  

TFF: Well being an optimistic pessimist is definitely the best kind. 

TFF: Early in your career you represented Team USA Baseball. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

CP: I’ve had the enjoyable experience of playing for Team USA twice; once on their collegiate National Team in ’05, and on the World Cup team in ’07. Both experiences are something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Playing in the MLB is awesome and very special in it’s own right, but to play for Team USA and have the Stars and Stripes across your chest…there’s nothing like it. To be part of two select teams is pretty humbling. The time in ’05 was really fun because everyone was in college and we got to travel to Japan and Taiwan. We were pretty much on vacation with a little baseball thrown in. The time in ’07 was more business-like. We were a mixture of older and younger professionals, some with major league time, there to win the gold medal. We also went to Taiwan and participated in the IBAF World Cup of baseball. We ended up winning the whole tournament for the first time since the ’70’s.

TFF: What was it like being a first round pick? Did you have to deal with lots of pressures? People treating you differently? Asking you to borrow a few bucks?

CP: I have a really strong family and was fortunate that no one came to ask to borrow a few dollars. I don’t think I personally had any more pressure on me because I was a high pick. There was more pressure on me because I was always the youngest player on my team. I also had pretty good seasons so I kind of let my play do the talking.

TFF: How did it feel getting traded so early in your career? Did you feel betrayed by the Cardinals or did you know that it was just part of the game?

CP: I knew it was part of the game, but I was totally shocked that I was traded because I was so young. When I first was told of the trade my initial reaction was happiness and excitement. But as the day went on I started to realize that I was leaving behind a great organization in terms of fan support and tradition, but more importantly I was leaving behind a lot of friends that I had made coming up through the minors. It was also a great feeling that a team thought so highly of me and I knew I would have a tremendous opportunity with Cleveland.

TFF: Which guys on the team have you become the closest with since coming over from St. Louis? Any noteworthy jokesters in the Indians clubhouse?

CP: I’m pretty close to the whole bullpen, we are a family within a family. We all have similar interests and likes and really pull for each other during the season. We have a couple of funny guys on the team, Shelley Duncan and Frank Herrmann come to mind.

TFF: Kerry Wood really gave you a roller coaster ride in 2010. It must have been hard having a veteran breathing down your neck. Tell us about that.

CP: It would have been a lot more stressful if Kerry wasn’t such a good guy/teammate. Woody was great for all of us; we really looked up to him and tried to learn all we could from him. I told him a couple of times that I vividly remember the game when he struck out 20 Astros. I watched the entire game on WGN. So there was definitely respect there. I really didn’t have a problem wondering when he was coming back, or if he was going to be traded. I concentrated on myself and pitching as best as I could so that if something did happen I would get first crack at the closers’ role.

TFF: In your first full season in the AL you improved in virtually all possible statistical categories. What will you do differently in 2011 to continue improving and not let hitters get a read on you?

CP: I’m going to try and do the same things I did last year because I didn’t trick anyone; I went out there and got ahead of hitters and made tough pitches when I needed to. I also had a little luck, which never hurts. The way I approach hitters, I pitch to my strengths and adjust to what they do. I throw a lot of fastballs and read how the hitter is adjusting to my speed/location to see if I need to throw a slider or change locations. If I go out there and hit every spot all season long, I will have a great season. That’s the challenge of the game—you are challenging the hitter and your own self with trying to hit all of your spots.

TFF: How differently do you prepare now that you’re a closer, than when you were in middle relief? Different pitches, different mindset, etc?

CP: You probably won’t believe me, but as the closer, hitters are a little more patient, except in one-run games. So I try and throw the first pitch of an appearance right down the middle to get ahead. Other than that I really try to pitch the same in any role…dominate, be aggressive and attack the hitter. Now when guys get on base, it’s totally different trying to protect a lead as the closer vs middle relief. As the closer you sometimes have to navigate a lineup and pick out your best option to attack to protect a lead.

TFF: Have you embraced your nickname “Pure Rage”? It’s kind of like the modern day “Wild Thing” for the Indians.

CP: I’m cool with it. I think if you asked anyone that is close to me, the nickname definitely doesn’t fit me. Off the field, I’m pretty laid-back and easy going. On the field I’m more serious, quiet and focused. When I’m pitching that’s really the only time I have “Pure Rage.” I like to compete, but I love to win. Actually I hate to lose more. That’s what keeps me coming back, to compete and win at the highest level.

TFF: Have you ever played Fantasy Baseball? If so, how did you do?

CP: I’ve played twice, once in high school and once in college. Honestly it took too much time to do, so I never really enjoyed it. I would always forget to change my pitchers, or someone I started would get a day off, so I would always lose. I appreciate it though, because it really does bring in more fans and helps keep fans close to the game.  

TFF: Well, we and your fans appreciate that you appreciate us. 

TFF: What are your goals for this season? How about some stats projections…

CP: My main goal is to stay healthy. If I’m healthy I know I will have a successful year. Stats-wise I can’t really predict how many saves I’ll have because it really isn’t up to me. I’ll try to predict my blown saves at 3—2 in the first half and 1 in the second half. I think I will also be able to get a few more strikeouts this year by making better two-strike pitches and by mixing in a few more change-ups.

TFF: We so figured you would say zero blown saves! 

TFF: Other than Fausto Carmona, which Indians starter should we expect the most out of in 2011?

CP: I’m going to say with the four that are guarantee spots: Carlos Carrasco. He has the ability to throw four pitches for strikes and three of them are plus. He looked totally different last September than he did in ’09. As a dark horse look out for Anthony Reyes. He’s totally healthy now and has good velocity. He has a nice break to his slider and always has that change-up. I’ve played catch with him a few times and he looks/feels totally different. 

Thanks again Chris. You were a great interview and we at The Fantasy Fix wish you good luck in 2011. One request—try to take it easy on our buddy Will Rhymes over in Detroit, other than that…strike em all out!


Written by Alan Harrison exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.


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15 Former High-Priced MLB Stars Now Proud to Play for Peanuts

Some of the former big names of baseball still linger in the sport today, even if it is just some time in the minor leagues. Some people say that these players should hang up their spurs, because those players do not know when to walk away.

Some of the players who took the biggest contracts in baseball, or at least had an extremely expensive market price, are now contracted to play for mere fractions of the contracts that they were once signed to. This has allowed some players to get good play time for teams who are in desperate need of a rebuild. It also reunited Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, but some other players are making chump change playing for a minor league team, at least in comparison to what they once made.

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Chicago Cubs: The Olive Branch Of Kerry Wood

When Lou Pinella announced his retirement this past fall and the Chicago Cubs tapped career minor leaguer Mike Quade as their new manager, a storm of epidemic proportions befell the front office.

First, general manager Jim Hendry hired an unknown relative to continue the starving organization’s quest for its first World Series title since 1908. As if that wasn’t enough? Hendry also spurned one of the most popular Cubs players in franchise history, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

While the decision boggled the minds of many fans, it wasn’t so much that Hendry made the decision, but rather how he made (and subsequently handled) the decision and its fallout.

Sandberg wasn’t immediately offered his previous post as the manager of the Iowa Cubs, where he was named the Pacific Coast League’s Coach of the Year in 2010. Instead, he was sent to pasture. A slight on one Cub is a slight on them all in this brotherhood of pain. Hurt by the perceived slight, Sandberg took an identical Triple-A job with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Needless to say: many Cubs fans were livid about the move.

From boycotts to threats of changing allegiances, many fans were huffing and puffing. Hendry had slighted one of their own. Sandberg set that perception in place the following week when he made his rounds on the talk radio circuit.

Hendry was a pariah in many bitter circles. They already struggled with the contracts Hendry had brought in (see Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome) as well as some of the head-scratchers (see Milton Bradley). However, many believed the growing pains would be bearable under the leadership of one of the most popular Cubs in history.

Hendry stood at a crossroads, and he couldn’t do right. He signed power-hitting, defensive-minded first baseman, Carlos Pena, at the beginning of December. Fans wept. Hendry began negotiating a possible trade for Tampa Rays starter Matt Garza. Fans scoffed. Hendry faced a lose-lose situation, and the Cubs faced a crisis of image (no matter how many teary episodes of “Undercover Boss” team owner Todd Ricketts appeared on).

Then Ron Santo, arguably the most popular Cub of all time, passed away.

Former teammates, friends and fans swarmed to his funeral, paying respects to a guy who loved the Cubs as much as he loved oxygen. Pallbearers included Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams, and one such guest was taken aback by his return home to pay his respects.

That guest was “Kid-K” himself — Kerry Wood.

Before Santo’s spirit left the building, Henry and Wood promised to speak again about a possible return to Chicago. Wood was a free agent, having just played a major role in solidifying the New York Yankees bullpen. He was due a large payout in the range of $7-10 million, yet something pulled him back into the most masochistic love affair in sports.

Within a week, Wood was signing a hometown discount deal for $1.5 million, and the ire of Cubs fans began to subside. Less than a month later, the Cubs finally landed Matt Garza and also brought back Augie Ojeda and Reed Johnson,two other fan favorites who had left the organization, as non-roster invitees.

The angry Cubs fans began warming up to Hendry again, muttering things like, “I love you, Cubs, but I just don’t like you very much right now.” Classic signs of an abusive relationship. Suddenly, Hendry was being likened to the outlawed friend of a friend who was now welcomed over for Pay-Per-View fights and the occasional night out for a drink. Awkward, but tenable.

Appealing to their nostalgia, Wood serves as an olive branch to the fans. Coexisting isn’t nearly as fargone a conclusion as it originally seemed. The only other moves he’s yet to make are bringing back Lou Brock, Mark Grace and the ghost of Billy Sianis and his billy goat.

Making amends takes time, effort and a fan base who is willing to forget the last 102 years of futility because — say what you want about Cubs fans — their loyalty runs deep.

Hendry may still be in the doghouse, but it’s an upgrade from where he was three months ago: the outhouse. Only time will tell if the move saves his reputation in Chicago, or if he is shown to door to oblivion like those who have come before: Larry Himes, Ed Lynch, Dallas Green and John Holland. But this relationship’s going to take some time, and perhaps a few W’s in April, to return to the glory days of 2007 and 2008.

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