Kerry Wood Never Fulfilled Expectations, But Handled Injury-Plagued Career With Professionalism

Kerry Wood Never Fulfilled Expectations, But Handled Injury-Plagued Career With ProfessionalismKerry Wood started his career with a strikeout. So it was only fitting that the Cubs pitcher finished his career with one.

By striking out Dayan Viciedo on a breaking ball, Wood put the bow on a rollercoaster career — one that was marred by injuries. The 34-year-old officially called it quits on Saturday, when he formally announced his retirement from baseball.

When Wood was promoted to the majors in 1998, he joined the Cubs with high expectations after he was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft. He hit the ground running immediately, fanning 20 batters in historic fashion on May 6, 1998.

Wood would go on to to win the National League Rookie of the Year, setting himself up for an illustrious career. Or so we thought.

It was an unfortunate fall from grace. Shortly after his historic 20-strikeout performance, Wood's injury woes would begin –– starting with Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 1999 baseball season.

Little by little, the injuries would add up en route to 16 career trips to the disabled list. From 2004 to 2005, Wood bounced on and off the DL as he battled tricep injuries and shoulder issues that resulted in arthroscopic surgery. Through it all, he handled the adversity with professionalism.

Weakened by the setbacks, Wood was forced into the bullpen. Once it appeared that Wood had secured a second life –– earning All-Star honors as a closer in 2008 –– his momentum never materialized upon joining Cleveland.

Despite a short but successful stint with the Yankees, Wood went back to Chicago in 2011 to relive his glory days. But knee and shoulder injuries continued to plague, eventually forcing Wood to retire.

Through it all, many in baseball respected Wood's resiliency. Red Sox reliever Rich Hill, who was teammates with Wood in Chicago, will always remember his counterpart for handling struggles with grace.

"I remember him telling me everybody's going to have an opinion, but the one that matters the most is the guys in the locker room and your family," Hill said. "Kind of like when you're struggling, reaffirming that was everybody behind me."

Wood may have never fulfilled his Hall of Fame expectations, but he did epitomize a true professional attitude by handling his rollercoaster career with elegance and patience.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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