Kerry Wood to announce retirement, but may pitch one last time at Wrigley Field

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Kerry Wood has struggled since returning from a disabled list stint two weeks ago, allowing five runs in six innings following a month off because of a shoulder injury, and now the one-time phenom turned quality setup man has decided to call it a career at age 34.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that Wood will announce his retirement today following a 14-year career, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Wood will be available out of the bullpen one final time for this afternoon’s game against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. That would be one hell of a sendoff.

Wood burst onto the scene as a flame-throwing, unhittable 21-year-old rookie in 1998, striking out 20 batters in one of the most dominant performances in baseball history, but then blew out his elbow and missed all of 1999. He returned as a very effective starter, posting a 3.68 ERA in 138 starts from 2000-2004 and topping 200 strikeouts in three straight seasons, including a league-leading 266 whiffs in 2003.

However, after more injuries limited Wood to a total of 114 innings from 2005-2007 he shifted to the bullpen full time and established himself as a quality setup man. He was excellent for the Cubs last season, taking less money to return to Chicago and then posting a 3.35 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 51 innings, but this year he’s walked 11 batters in eight innings.

It’s a shame we never got to see what a healthy Wood was truly capable of, because the rookie who took the baseball world by storm in 1998 was absolutely amazing to watch and racked up a ridiculous 233 strikeouts in 167 innings before his arm gave out. He came back to throw 1,213 innings with a 3.71 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine frames, which is a damn fine career by itself, but he made just two All-Star teams and never received a single Cy Young vote.

Wood’s right arm was capable of so much more if it didn’t let him down repeatedly, but it’s nice to see him go out as a Cub considering how much he loved Chicago. And he’ll be remembered long after pitchers with twice as many wins are forgotten.

Rene Rivera out 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery

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Angels catcher Rene Rivera will be sidelined for up to six weeks, the club announced Friday. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation last Sunday and underwent surgery for a torn meniscus.

Rivera, 34, signed on as a backup catcher to the Angels’ Martin Maldonado back in January. Since then, he’s slashed a healthy .259/.322/.481 with six extra-base hits and an .804 OPS in 59 plate appearances this spring. While manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t anticipate any complications with the veteran catcher’s recovery process, the team will have to wait and see whether he can maintain that kind of consistent production upon his return this summer.

In the interim, rookie backstop Jose Briceno is expected to shoulder Rivera’s workload. The 25-year-old is working through his second year in the Angels’ organization and currently batting .261/.272/.500 with six home runs in 92 PA for Triple-A Salt Lake. He’s likely to make his big league debut sometime in the next week.