The ribbon has officially been cut on the brand new Cubs Park in Mesa, Arizona, and pitchers and catchers have reported to camp to kick off the 2014 edition of the Chicago Cubs. This season will be year three for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and it will also be year one for new manager Rick Renteria. The new Spring Training facility will be the largest in the Cactus League, and early feedback is giving the complex outstanding reviews.
Two pitchers that will be reporting to camp are Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. Recently, the Cubs were able to avoid arbitration with Samardzija when the two sides agreed to a one-year $5.345 million contract. Chicago was rumored to be looking for trade partners on the right-hand pitcher this winter, but no deal has been made to this point. No long-term deal has also been made for the likely Opening Day starter, as well which leaves the future of Samardzija wearing a Cubs’ uniform in doubt.
With the offseason being filled with questions from Samardzija to Edwin Jackson searching for a rebound year, and just who exactly will fill out the rotation, lost in the shuffle has been Wood. The left-hand starter was the lone All-Star for the Cubs a season ago and is the closest thing to stability within the rotation that Chicago has going right now.
While Wood was one of the first Cubs players to receive a one-year arbitration-eligible contract for this season. He will not be free-agent eligible until 2017. Wood, along with Samardzija, finished in the top 16 in the NL in innings pitched, and both reached the 200-innings mark for the first time in their careers.
Last season, Wood also had career-bests in ERA (3.11), games started (32), wins (nine), and strikeouts (144). He just turned 27 and will be entering his fifth season in the big leagues. Wood will try to build upon an All-Star campaign as the Cubs no. 2 starter this season.
So while the attention may be on others at camp, Wood would likely prefer it that way. He will just continue to go out every fifth day and do his job. Look for Wood to continue his success, build upon a breakout 2013 season in 2014, and be a core piece for the Cubs.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.