Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 1/13/12

After months of speculation as to whether or not he would return to the North Side, reliever Kerry Wood revealed his decision on Friday night by being the last player introduced at the Cubs Convention at the Hilton Chicago. The event, always geared toward recognizing the new faces the team has brought in over the winter, as well as appreciate the club’s history, but this time, it took on a special meaning with Wood emerging on the stage.

Despite his stated desire to stay in Chicago, Wood didn’t seem very confident that he would end up re-signing with the club, even going so far as to say on ESPN Chicago’s Waddle and Silvy show that he had been “within minutes” of signing with several other teams. Teams like the Tigers, Phillies, and many others were rumored to be destinations for the pitcher, who will turn 35 in June. In the end, however, it was his hometown Cubs that allowed him to avoid the extra hassle of travelling and moving with his family and brought him back into what can only be described as a full rebuild on the North Side.

It may not have been the most surprising announcement ever, especially with how clear Wood made it that he wanted to come back to the Cubs, but it still was nice to see Theo value Wood’s value both on and off the field to the team and to the fans, and to bring him back despite his age and the team’s singular focus on building for the future. Some fans may complain that he is taking a roster spot away from a youngster, but the reality is that this team needs some veteran leadership after some big time departures in the off-season, and Wood is perfect for that role.

For now, all Wood has to do is bask in the adulation of fans, and to continue preparing for Spring Training to open. It’s going to be a long 35 days until pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, to be sure.

In Other News…

Starlin Castro, accused of sexual assault stemming from an incident in late September, reported to the Chicago Police Department’s Belmont Station today to be interviewed in connection with  the high-profile case. While law enforcement officials say that the investigation is still pending, Castro has not been charged, and was present at the team’s Convention opener this evening.

Castro did release a statement, saying in part:

“I personally, and through my attorneys, have fully cooperated with the police in this matter…Unfortunately I cannot address the matter further at this time while the investigation is taking place. I understand that being a member of the Cubs means being a hard worker on the field and a good citizen off the field, and I always want to carry myself in a way that exceeds high expectations.”

The organization released a statement as well when the accusations were made public, saying they were hopeful that Castro would be cleared of all wrongdoing. We should know more in the weeks going forward.

 

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