- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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MESA, Ariz. -- Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood's run as a coach during spring training is coming to an end. After spending several weeks with the club he’s headed back home to Chicago on Thursday. He sat down for Q&A session regarding topics ranging from Sammy Sosa's legacy to Wood's future (maybe) in coaching.
Jesse Rogers: You’ve had a taste of coaching these last couple weeks. Is it in your future?
Kerry Wood: Not now. The kids are too young. We’re in a good spot. I’m not going to say never and I do enjoy being on the field and talking pitching. It’s what I know.
JR: What about broadcasting?
KW: Maybe something down the line. It would have to be something I feel more comfortable with.
JR: Now that you’ve had a little time to reflect since retiring last season, do you look back on your career and think, "What could have been?" You know, without the injuries and the way you came to the big leagues.
KW: I don’t look back at it like that. I never did it as a player and not now either. It’s not fair to myself and what I went through. Plus those expectations were put on me after my fifth start. Good stuff doesn’t guarantee you 300 wins. Things happen to me for a reason. I don’t think if I hadn’t dealt with those adversities (injuries) and being out of the game, it would have made me the person that I am or became because of that stuff.
JR: Go back to that day in 2006 when you almost retired. People probably forgot the story. You were one throwing session away from quitting -- but instead you threw pain-free.
KW: Still to this day there is no answer to why, overnight, it stopped hurting. I actually went to blow it out for good so I wouldn’t have any doubts and ended up two weeks later I was in rehab outings. It was crazy.
JR: What was that like?
KW: I had been through it for so long, had those ups and down for so long, I didn’t get excited about it. It was just like, "OK, I’ll call (former Cubs GM) Jim Hendry tomorrow when I come in when I can’t move it," and I came in the next day and it felt OK. Went out and threw again, threw better than the day before. It was really the first time I had gone back-to-back days throwing like that. I was able to respond, so kept putting (retirement) off for the next day and waiting for it to feel like crap when I woke up in the morning and it never did. Maybe mentally I just needed to let go -- thinking my career was over -- but pain is pain. It abruptly ended for me.
JR: Did you ever consider performance enhancing drugs for any reason? To help you recover?
KW: It never crossed my mind. I always thought it was something that would injure you.
JR: What about the direction of the organization now that you are on the other side of things. What do you think of the new regime after a year or so?
KW: I think the mindset has changed. You want to be that organization that’s in the playoffs every year and not just go for it and sneak in. The mentality here, now, there is a different feel of where this organization is going. Just the communication and attention to detail without overdoing it. With the numbers and stuff you can overdo it. There’s enough baseball people surrounding this team, they’re aware of that. There are smart baseball people here.
JR: This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 team that lost the NLCS to the Florida Marlins in very dramatic fashion. Aside from your injuries were those the toughest moments for you as a player?
KW: No question about it. We felt more comfortable in that series than in the Atlanta series. We matched up well against them. It was more frustrating because the media hype going into it and you knew it was almost a hundred years since a Cubs team had done that so we were getting ready to be part of a team that made history. It was more about letting generations of fans and a city down more than anything personal... That was the best team I played on. Still, to this day.
JR: You were obviously close to Mark Prior during those years. How tough was it to see him go through what he did while you eventually recovered enough to keep pitching?
KW: He’s never really given up on that goal to get back to the big leagues. He’s still working, he’s still trying to throw for teams. I commend him for that. That was one of the hardest things, just mentally, dealing with that roller coaster. He’s been dealing with it for a long time.
JR: There’s a lot of buzz back in Chicago about Derrick Rose of the Bulls. As someone that’s gone through the whole injury problem, what do you think from the outside looking in?
KW: He’s the one that knows his body. I’m a bad example. I would rush, I wouldn’t wait. There were days, right or wrong, I’m going to push through it... What you don’t want to do is be off as long as he’s been then test it and have a setback... There’s time to push through it and times not to. I told (Matt) Garza when (his lat) feels great give it three more days.