He’s back, Chicago: Cubs close to deal with Kerry Wood


Here’s an interesting one.

According to David Kaplan of Chicago Now, the Cubs are moving toward the finalization of a deal with free agent reliever Kerry Wood.

Wood spent the first 10 years of his professional career with the Cubbies and was a force in their starting rotation from 2001-2004.  But injuries hit him toward the end of the decade and he was forced to move to the bullpen.

Now 33 years old, the right-hander posted a 1.23 ERA and 0.69 WHIP over 26 innings this year for the Yankees.  He should do a fine job as a setup man for Carlos Marmol on the north side of Chicago in 2011.

It might have the feel of a bad PR move, but Wood has built himself into a reliable eighth-inning reliever and the Cubs have spent in worse ways and on worse players.

He was believed to be seeking a two-year contract worth $12 million.  As long as Jim Hendry and Co. didn’t go to three years, they can feel good about adding to a bullpen that was in need of an upgrade.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is now confirming the report.  This baby is real.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.