Kap: Wood expected to return to Cubs

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Kap: Wood expected to return to Cubs

Kerry Wood has said all along he would either return to the Cubs or retire.

He is currently a free agent, but may not have to hang up his spikes just yet.

CSN's David Kaplan is reporting the veteran reliever will almost assuredly be back with the Cubs in 2012 and could even sign a two-year deal.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were interested in a total makeover of the Cubs organization when they took over the front office and one of the major steps was to talk to Wood. Epstein met with the 34-year-old righty in Chicago last week to talk open and honestly about the state of the franchise. As Wood is the longest-tenured veteran, with the exception of the two years he spent in Cleveland and New York, and the most respected voice in the clubhouse, Epstein was hoping to gain a greater insight into how to change the Cubs' culture.

Wood compiled a 3.35 ERA last season in 51 innings. He struck out 57 batters and posted his best strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.71) since his 2008 All Star season with the Cubs when he saved 34 games.

He was shut down during the team's last homestand of 2011 with a knee injury, but all signs point to a full recovery. With Carlos Marmol coming off an erratic season, it wouldn't hurt the Cubs to have another veteran presence at the back end of the bullpen. Wood served mostly as a seventh or eighth inning guy in '11, but could be provide depth if Marmol experiences bouts of inconsistency again.

CSNChicago's David Kaplan contributed to this story.

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

In terms of overall satisfaction for a fanbase in total, it'd be hard for any team could beat the Cubs' faithful right now.

Ending a 108-year drought will make even the most pessimistic of fans ecstatic.

So it's no surprise Wrigley Field would be considered one of the happiest places on Earth.

To counteract "Blue Monday," CNN discussed 15 of the world's happiest places and Wrigley was included.

But the kicker is — CNN doesn't even mention the World Series championship.

Here's the rationale:


"Wrigley Field, on a warm summer night when the breeze off Lake Michigan makes the flags flutter and your cheeks flush with relief from the damp heat.

"No matter where you sit, you are close to the field, which makes you feel both the intimacy of the game and the immensity of it.

"The players, standing just feet away from you, feel like giants. And the vendors in the stands hawking hot dogs and beers and Italian ice really are a study in that particular species of Chicago native."


Don't know many people who would argue with that.

The only other American location on the list was Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Other worldwide locations include Bangkok, Japan, New Zealand and Copenhagen.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."