Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

``Sosa should return to the Cubs'': Kerry Wood

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Kerry Wood will have a new role with the Cubs in the future, likely as an on-field instructor of some kind. But the former Cubs pitching star hopes he is not the only one from his era who comes back to the team as an ambassador for the future.
Specifically, Wood would like to see Sammy Sosa as well as ex-stars like Mark Grace, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg find a home here again.
``I get those situations and how it worked out,'' he said of Sandberg and Maddux separating from the team. ``Hopefully we get them back. And it wouldn't be bad to see Sammy come back. He did a lot for this team and the city.
``It's part of the history of the team, but they have more to offer than just that. And Grace, too.
``Certainly things ended in some ways. But Sammy and [Mark] McGwire practically saved baseball [in the aftermath of the 1994 strike]. Sammy did tremendous things for this town, and one mistake at the end shouldn't determine his future.''
Wood spoke Sunday on the day the organization set aside to commemorate his career. Wood spent 14 of his 16 seasons as a Cub.
Wood, who retired in May, was a teammate of Sosa, Grace and Maddux. His 1998 season as National League rookie of the year was also the season Sosa and McGwire broke the then-single season home run record, with Sosa going on to win the MVP honors that season with 66 homers and 158 RBI while the Cubs reached the playoffs as the wild card team. Sosa's 13-year career with the Cubs ended on a sour note with the right fielder leaving the park during one of the last games of the 2004 season without permission. He was traded in the off season to Baltimore.
Sosa played in 2005 for the Orioles and finished his career in 2007 playing for the Texas Rangers. His reputation has been tainted with the brush of steriod use and was among the players called to testify before Congress during its inquiry into baseball's steriod problems. He has lived in his native Dominican Republic since his retirement and is among a number of past stars who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame this year under the cloud of the steriod years.
The Cubs chose not to resign Grace after the 2000 season after his 13 years as a Cub. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was part of their World Series championship team in 2001. He retired after 2003 and has been a broadcaster with the Diamondbacks. But he was suspended earlier this month after being charged with a second drunken driving change and faces the risk of more criminal prosecution connected to the charge.
Maddux had two tenures with the Cubs and was a special assistant to former general manager Jim Hendry after his retirement in 2008. But he left the organization after Hendry was fired and now works with the Texas Rangers, where his brother Mike is the pitching coach.
Hall of Famer Sandberg left the organization after 2010 after being passed over for the team's managerial job following four seasons managing in the farm system. Sandberg also was passed over for consideration by Theo Epstein when he became president of the organization last year. Sandberg returned to the Philadelphia organization in 2011 and has been managing its Class AAA affiliate in Lehigh Valley. He is considered a candidate to succeed Phillies manager Charlie Manuel in the future.
Wood said he hopes to have some kind of role ``in uniform'' with the Cubs next season, but said keeping a link to other past stars is important.
``You can never fill the role of Ron Santo and Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins,'' he said. ``Those ambassadors can't be replaced. But [Sosa, Sandberg, Maddux and Grace] have something to offer.''

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on September 23, 2012 11:49 AM.

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