- Associated Press - Friday, May 18, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) - Has Kerry Wood pitched his final game?

The Chicago Cubs reliever came in during the eighth inning of Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

He struck out Dayan Viciedo before he was replaced. His teammates joined him on the mound to congratulate him and he left to a rousing ovation. He was hugged by his son as he reached the dugout and moments later, he came out for a curtain call waving his cap to the fans at Wrigley Field as James Russell threw warmup pitches.

Wood is expected to retire after Friday’s game. Wood, who began his major league career with the Cubs in 1998 and struck out 20 Houston Astros batters in his fifth major league start, took the mound to rousing cheers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Kerry Wood, who electrified baseball with a 20-strikeout game as a rookie in 1998 and then became a reliever after his career was slowed by injuries, is expected to retire after pitching one more time for the Chicago Cubs.

The 34-year-old Wood was in uniform Friday against the White Sox in the opener of their first interleague series of the season. The Cubs declined comment after multiple media outlets reported Wood’s decision, though manager Dale Sveum said Wood was available to pitch if needed.

“It will be tough not seeing him out there pitching,” pitcher Ryan Dempster said before the game as Wood was shagging fly balls with his son. “I hope he goes out there and finishes on a great note. He’s been a great friend and a great teammate and a great Chicago Cub.”

Sveum wouldn’t comment directly on Wood’s plans but answered a question about how hard it is for players to retire.

“One of those things you know it’s the most difficult thing you ever have to deal with,” Sveum said. “Everybody has to do it.”

Wood went on the disabled list earlier this season with shoulder fatigue. He has struggled, putting up an 0-2 record and 8.64 ERA in nine appearances before Friday’s game. After a poor outing against Atlanta on May 8, a frustrated Wood tossed his cap and glove into the stands.

In all, Wood has been on the disabled list 16 times over 13-plus seasons.

Coming into the year, Wood was 86-73 with a 3.64 ERA and 63 saves. He left the Cubs as a free agent in December 2008, signing with the Cleveland Indians for two years and $20.5 million. He was traded to the Yankees in July 2010, becoming Mariano Rivera’s setup man, but he remained loyal to Chicago.

He returned to the Cubs in 2011, when he went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 relief appearances before shutting it down because of a tear in his left knee that required arthroscopic surgery. In January, Wood agreed to play for the Cubs again for $3 million _ double his 2011 pay _ with a $3 million club option for 2013.

It was no secret that Wood wanted to remain a Cub. He lives in Chicago year-round, and the team’s new regime had made it clear the feelings were mutual. New president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called it a “no-brainer” move to bring back the popular reliever.

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