Yesterday the Yankees declined their $11 million option on Kerry Wood for next season and today Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports that he “would be welcomed back to the Cubs organization if general manager Jim Hendry has enough money in the offseason.”
Wood was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 1998 and spent the first decade of his career in Chicago, leaving as a free agent after saving 34 games with a 3.26 ERA in his first full season as a reliever in 2008.
He signed a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Indians, who used him as a closer when Wood was healthy enough to pitch and then shipped him to the Yankees for salary relief on July 31.
Between the regular season and playoffs Wood posted a 1.06 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 34 innings for the Yankees and at the very least multiple teams figure to pursue him as a late-inning setup man. He may even get another opportunity to close, in which case the Cubs are probably out of luck. On the other hand, Levine notes that Wood is married to a Chicago native and still owns a home there.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.