Path to Wood’s return to Cubs began at Santo’s funeral
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It's amazing sometimes how fate, karma -- or whatever you want to call it -- can change lives.
Just ask Kerry Wood and Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
If the pair hadn't run into one another at Ron Santo's funeral last week they wouldn't have been together on the podium at Wrigley Field on Friday announcing that Wood was returning to the Cubs, having signed a one-year contract worth $1.5 million plus incentives.
"God bless No. 10," Hendry said of Santo. "In actuality, in his own great way, he had something to do with this."
The chance meeting at Santo's funeral was followed by more intense discussions at a fundraiser held by Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster. It was there that Wood let Hendry know he wanted back with the Cubs big time.
"I threw it out there to Jim that one night," Wood said. "He was honest with me about it from Day One (saying), 'If this isn't a possibility, we're not going to go down this road. I can't compete (with other teams' offers).'
To which Wood responded: "I'm not really asking you to at this point."
When Hendry got back to Wood and found out that one of his favorite players was willing to come back for a very, very reasonable price leaving much larger offers on the table, including one from the White Sox well, it was just a matter of time.
And a couple of meetings with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts as well.
"I met with Tom on Monday and Kerry came down and spent some time with Tom and it was just something that I think made perfect sense," Hendry said. "It wouldn't be done on sentiment; he obviously fits a need that we drastically need for the good of our ballclub this year."
That would be as a right-handed setup man for closer Carlos Marmol.
"I feel good, my body feels great," Wood said. "I figured some stuff out there the last half of the season (with the Yankees) and had a good second half. I developed the cutter a little bit better and it became a really big pitch for me.
"They have a need here at the end in the bullpen to help get the ball to Marmol and I feel like I can help them in that role."
So, instead of taking bigger and better offers, Wood opted to take less to return to the team he spent his first 11 seasons with.
"We had three or four different teams I could have chosen to go pitch for," Wood said. "There were a few different circumstances that came up which made me want to stay close to home, preferably in Chicago.
"And if I'm going to be in Chicago, I'm going to play for the North Side."
Somewhere Santo is smiling.
"It's just one of those great stories; a testament to Sarah (Wood) and Kerry and where their heart was," Hendry said. "It led them back here."
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