- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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MILWAUKEE -- Kerry Wood's return to the Chicago Cubs may be a mere formality at this point.
The 34-year-old reliever had a conversation with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein at a Chicago pub last week to discuss his future with the team.
"Theo has met with him and I've begun to talk to Pat Rooney (Wood's agent)," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "So we are going to consider bringing him back. My view of him is he's a guy who brings toughness. He doesn't shy away from big moments and big games. I think that's something really important. Chicago is a big stage and it's a mistake to take that for granted. Not every guy comes in from the outside can necessarily handle it."
Wood signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Cubs in January 2011. Prior to that, he turned down two-year deals from the Chicago White Sox and Epstein's Boston Red Sox. According to Major League sources, Wood left at least $8 million on the table to return to the Cubs.
Wood said at the end of the 2011 season that he'd either pitch for the Cubs or retire. Before Wood returned to the team last season, he had a conversation with chairman Tom Ricketts in which he was informed that he could be with the organization as long as he wanted to after he retired.
"I think it's monumental sentiment that he expressed last year toward the city when he came back," Hoyer said. "It's important to the club and the fans. It was a very meaningful gesture."
Wood had successful arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 30 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The recovery time from that injury was six weeks.
Wood was the Cubs' top draft pick in 1995. He stayed with the team until 2009 when he signed a two-year, $20-million with the Cleveland Indians. He was traded to the New York Yankees on July 31, 2010. He pitched out of the Yankees' bullpen that postseason.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.