How close did the new Cubs' regime come to blowing what should have been a slam dunk signing of a team icon and dismiss an inexpensive chance to offer a rare gesture of good will to a fan base being asked to endure a nameless season of rebuilding in 2012?
``About 25 minutes,'' Kerry Wood said.
That's how little margin was left to get Friday's $3-million, one-year deal done (plus a club option for the same price) as Wood said he waited for a call from another team to take a physical that would have meant agreeing with another team.
He wouldn't identify the team. But he said that by the time talks with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer dragged two months into the new regime's term without resolution, he'd changed his mind about retiring if not returning to the Cubs.
``I wasn't ready to retire. I didn't feel like I wanted to be forced into that,'' he said. ``I still love the game, and I have plenty left. That's what I said [about being a Cub or quitting], but I think people are allowed to change their mind.''
Especially when they feel they're not getting treated with respect. Wood played last year for a steep discount of $1.5 million after leaving multiyear offers on the table, because he wanted to return to the Cubs. He obviously wasn't asking for much more this season in relative baseball-salary terms. And, unlike last year, the Cubs have plenty of payroll room as they refill vacated positions with discount options.