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Sunday, February 19, 2012
Wood back, ready to do things 'Cub Way'

By Bruce Levine

MESA, Ariz. -- Since his first spring with the Chicago Cubs in 1996, Kerry Wood has been a focal point for both fans and media. However, this time around he might be fighting off father time and a new management style.

The Cub player with the longest relationship with the team is waiting to hear all about the “Cub Way” that new the management team has put down as the holy grail for being a Cub in the future.

“I am excited to hear about it,” Wood said. “I just don’t know a lot about it yet.”

What Wood does know is that he no longer has the ear of the top Cub executives other than the Ricketts family. Wood almost went elsewhere this offseason before team chairman Tom Ricketts intervened at the last minute and the club re-signed the 35-year-old veteran to a one-year, $3 million dollar contract on Jan. 13 at the Cubs Convention.

After meeting with team president Theo Epstein in early November, Wood has not had a conversation with either Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer since that time.

Regardless of that, the popular Cub icon is ready to compete in 2012. Wood missed the last two weeks of the 2011 season with a left knee tear, having surgery to repair it on Sept. 30.

“The knee is great,” Wood said. “I am 100 percent, no problems and it has been that way for a month or so. I’ve been throwing off the mound for a while now and feel great.”

Wood may be going into his last season, but he is very optimistic about the new group of players that will comprise the 25-man roster in 2012.

“It’s good to see a change, you get kind of watered down with the same thing over and over again,” Wood said. “It’s Groundhog Day, nothing changes. So it’s good to see a change and now I’m looking forward to moving down the street [to HoHoKam Park] and playing.”

When he chooses to retire, Wood will be a part of the organization going forward, according to an agreement that he has with Ricketts.