Only three men can say they have struck out 20 batters in one game, and one of them is the closer for the Chicago Cubs. The road to the big leagues was easy enough for Kerry Wood, it was staying on the mound that has been his issue.
How did this star in the making become a player no one would touch?
Kerry Wood began his major league career as a can't miss prospect. In his first season he had the infamous 20 strikeout game, everyone wanted a piece of him. His rookie season went well enough, he pitched his way to a 13-6 record and easily won the Rookie of the Year award. However, he missed the last month of the season with elbow soreness, to say this was a foreshadow of what was to come is an understatement.
Kerry missed the entire '99 season because of Tommy John surgery, his star was getting dimmer. He struggled over the next few seasons, but every now and again would show flashes of the star he could become. In 2003, Wood seemed to put it all together, he finished the season 14-11 will a career high 266 strikeouts. The Cubs almost made it to the World Series and Wood played a huge role in their success.
2004 began with the same struggles that plagued Kerry in the past as an injured elbow once again sidelined the flame thrower. 2005 was the same story, season ending surgery.
Kerry went to the bullpen when he came back in '07, the fans didn't expect much from him. However, when it came time to sign a new contract Kerry stated that he owed the Cubs and their fans for all the time he has missed due to injury.
A stand up guy, he literally became a multi-millionaire while on the DL, but he realized he needed to prove to everyone that he could still pitch. The Chicago fans for some reason stayed devoted to this guy, people were disappointed but not upset. It's almost as if he was a family member that you couldn't stay mad at, but you wanted him to succeed so badly.
And succeed he has, becoming the closer in 2008 has brought new life to the career of this one time can't miss star in the making. Kerry has gone from All-Star to injury plagued bust and then back to All-Star.
As the closer in 2008, Kerry Wood has 22 saves and a 2.91 ERA. Wood has looked downright unhittable when he takes the mound in the 9th inning. His velocity is back, his delivery looks more stable, and he has become a dominating major league closer.
The story of Kerry Wood's career is a story of perseverance and determination. He has bounced back from injury time and time again and has proven to the loyal fans that have come to see him, and believe in him year after year, that the kid can still play. Kid K is probably not a suitable nickname anymore, it seems like forever ago when the baby faced Texan threw that one hitter.
However the rest of the story plays out, it seems Kerry Wood will always have a place in the hearts' of Cubs fans.
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