Kaplan: Wood close to returning to Cubs

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Kaplan: Wood close to returning to Cubs

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
Posted 1:27 PM Updated 1:52 PM

CSNChicago.com

The Cubs are nearing an agreement with Kerry Wood that would bring back a clubhouse leader and address their need for bullpen help.

Comcast SportsNet's David Kaplan first reported Wednesday night, a deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the week. Wood enjoys a strong relationship with general manager Jim Hendry and is making Chicago his permanent home.

Those factors should help a Cubs team that has been looking for a right-handed reliever to pair with lefty Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol during end-game situations.

Wood who played 10 seasons in Chicago and will turn 34 in June has reinvented himself late in his career. He is a specialist, not the kid who struck out 20 in his fifth major-league start. The Cubs know all about his checkered medical history, but he excelled last season after a deadline trade from Cleveland to New York.

In the heat of a playoff race, Wood posted a 0.69 ERA across 24 games with the Yankees. He allowed only two runs in eight postseason innings, positioning himself nicely for free agency. He could have been a difference-maker for the Yankees, Red Sox or any other contender, but it appears that he wants to go home again.

Minor moves

Bill Dancy who spent more than three decades working in the Phillies and Royals organizations will take over for Ryne Sandberg as manager at Triple-A Iowa.

As part of the minor-league staff changes announced Thursday, Brian Harper, the catcher on the 1991 Twins World Series team, will replace Dancy as Double-A Tennessee manager. Mariano Duncan who was a part of the Dodgers major-league staff last season will be Tennessees hitting coach.

Former Cubs Jeff Fassero (Class-A Peoria pitching coach), Frank Castillo (Rookie-Mesa pitching coach) and Jason Dubois (Mesa hitting coach) have positions within the organization. Dennis Lewallyn (pitching) and Tom Beyers (hitting) were promoted to minor-league coordinators.

CSNChicago.coms Patrick Mooney contributed to this report.

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

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AP

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

Willson Contreras oozes swag.

The Cubs' fiery catcher has always worn his emotions on his sleeve and Friday was no exception.

Contreras hammered Carlos Martinez's 2-2 offering into the basket in left-center to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead and his bat flip/reaction was incredible:

Here's a closer look:

It's funny that Contreras even reacted that way given the ball just *barely* got out, but hey, a homer's a homer.

Contreras has been flat-out raking since the All-Star Break, going 10-for-23 with five runs, three doubles, three homers and nine RBI. That's a .435/.480/.957 slash line and 1.437 OPS in the six second-half games he's played in.

That's boosted his season line to .276/.341/.496 (an .837 OPS) with 14 homers. He's on pace to drive in 85 runs, second only to Anthony Rizzo on the Cubs.

Yes, this truly is becoming "Willy's" team.

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana emerged from the third-base dugout, taking in Wrigley Field for the first time in a Cubs uniform.

But he quickly snapped back to Earth as he realized he and the other Cubs starting pitchers were to take batting practice and he forgot to bring his bat out.

Ah, the life of an American League pitcher.

It was no big deal, obviously. And minutes later, Quintana's new teammates were marveling at his swing. Even Jake Arrieta — who has five career homers (all during the last three seasons) and sported a .720 OPS last year — was impressed.

Quintana doesn't start until Sunday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, so he has two days to acclimate to Wrigley Field.

Which is good, because Quintana showed up for work today — he took Lake Shore Drive in (better known as LSD to Chicagoans) — and didn't even know where the players' entrance was:

But once he figured that out, he was all smiles, learning the lay of the land from Cubs traveling secretary Vijay Tekchandani.

It's also good for the 28-year-old left-hander to get some consistency in his life.

Everything will be easier from this point on after he admitted the trade rumors had been bouncing around his head all season.

"It was my first time [being mentioned in trades]," Quintana said. "I never heard anything about trades [before]. It was on my mind all the time. 

"[Until I realized] it's because I'm doing something good and teams want me. I just try to do my job in season. It's really hard when you have trade [rumors] around you, but for me, it's over now and I'm excited for that and really happy to be here."

The White Sox organization was all Quintana had known since 2006 and after watching as teammates Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were shipped out of town over the winter, it is easy to see how it would've been tough dealing with the uncertain future. 

Quintana entered this season with a career 3.41 ERA, but that mark sat at 5.60 through the first two months of the season as the trade rumors swirled.

But the veteran southpaw eventually figured it out — just like he said — and has been on fire since then, posting a 2.30 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 47 innings since the start of June.

His first game as a Cub — Sunday against the Orioles in Baltimore, still with a DH — resulted in 12 Ks across seven shutout innings.

Quintana is excited for his first start in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Sunday night (so much so that he used the word "excited" at least seven times in his five-minute media session) and just recently got a few bats to put that BP prowess into action in a game.

He was pushed back a day, so he will completely miss the Crosstown series next week and will not pitch against his former mates. 

That might be the right move, as he admitted it would've been very difficult with the trade just over a week old by the time Monday's Crosstown opener comes along.

"It was difficult for me because I played there for six seasons," he said. "It wasn't easy when I heard [I was traded]. It was a little hard for me, but I understand it's part of business and this is the best for me, too.

"Trades happen for a reason and I'm really happy to be here with these teammates, this organization; they were champions last year. We have a really good chance this year. I'm excited to be here."

As for the trade rumors, Quintana is content now. Especially since he and his family don't even have to move.

"As my wife said," Quintana stated, "'You can sleep now.'"