Quirk improvised on Kerry Wood's final day

HOUSTON – Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk is back in the manager saddle again, he just might not get as much attention this time.

Quirk was managing Wednesday while Dale Sveum attended the high-school graduation of his son in Arizona, five days after he took over midgame when Sveum was ejected.

That game on Friday turned out to be Kerry Wood’s farewell and Quirk found himself right in the middle of the moment.

The plan was simple: Get Wood in one last game in a spot he is normally used and afterward the right-hander would walk off into the sunset. If it didn’t happen Friday then fine, but it was expected to happen soon.

It did happen Friday, though, and Quirk ended up doing a little improvising. He first thought he would use Wood for consecutive right-handed batters. But then he also though that since the pitcher’s spot was due up sixth after that half inning he might even let Wood get those two outs and go back for more the next inning.

Then came Wood’s three-pitch strikeout to the White Sox’s Dayan Viciedo, with the final strike coming on Wood’s patented curveball, and a new plan was hatched.

“The right-hander was up who had real poor numbers against left-handed pitching and we had (James) Russell ready so I just went out and said, ‘Let’s do it right now,” Quirk said. “It was fun. I was excited that I got to be the guy. I was definitely not about me by any means but it was fun to be the guy.”

Quirk said he did have one regret.

“When I went to take him out he handed me the ball,” Quirk said. “We got the ball for him but I wish I would have said, ‘No, you take the ball on in.’ I didn’t think about that at the time but it worked out well.”

Through all the drama, Quirk was careful not to lose sight what was also important.

“We still had a ballgame,” Quirk said. “I knew I wasn’t hurting our chances to win by bringing in Russell to face the right-hander because the right-hander did not hit lefties well. So I wasn’t putting the game in jeopardy. It was still a one-run game. I didn’t want to do that. If it was in jeopardy I would have him face the other right-hander and gone on with the other plan. It was just right to do it at that time.”