Kerry Wood In The House, And Shark Turns Down Deal

USA TODAY Sports

The retired Cubs pitcher is back -- as a spring-training instructor. And Jeff Samardzija was offered a contract extension, and said, "No."

Kerry Wood will turn 36 in June. There are a lot of major-league pitchers still pitching well at that age, but Wood's injuries were too much and he retired last May. Wanting to stay involved with the organization, Wood's helping out during the first month of spring training:

Wood spoke to some of the young pitchers about how to get prepared for the season. He's not ready to think about becoming a pitching coach in the future.

"I haven't looked that far ahead," he said. "Just being around here and learning the new faces and the younger guys who are going to be coming through the organization. I was pretty young when I came through it, so I think I have something to offer.

"Sometimes young players can be intimidated to go talk to a big league manager or pitching coach, so it's just another guy that's floating around they may be more comfortable talking with."

Sounds like something he can really help out with younger players. Wood told me at the Cubs Convention that he'll be around until about the first of March; what role he'll eventually have in the organization has yet to be determined.

The link above also has some info about Jeff Samardzija, who's coming off a fine 2012 season:

Jeff Samardzija turned down a five-year extension offer from the Cubs but thinks he will be with the organization a long time.

"I still haven't proven myself to where I want to be as a player," he said. "I was happy last year, but I don't want to stay there. I want to improve. The more I show them that, the more comfortable they'll be with getting a deal done.

"It's so far on the back (burner), it's not even an issue. The fact we have a common ground … it makes you feel good. Now it's just a little bantering back and forth."

This isn't really surprising, from either side. You can understand why Theo and Jed would want to lock Samardzija up, much as they did with Starlin Castro last year. Shark, for his part, probably wants to have another good season, which would increase his negotiating leverage next offseason. He just turned 28 last month and will make a below-market $2.64 million this year; he's not eligible for free agency until 2016.

If he has another year like last year, buying out those last two arb years plus the first two or three years of free agency should be a top priority for management.

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