CHICAGO -- Near the end of the 2008 season, Kerry Wood and Jim Hendry met for dinner. Wood was going to be a free agent and hoped to talk about his next contract with the Cubs.
But Hendry said the team couldn't keep the right-hander, who was the Cubs' first-round pick in 1995 and had not pitched for another organization -- nor did Wood want to leave.
"Obviously, it wasn't what I wanted to hear, but I respected the fact that he was in a tough situation and told me that we weren't going to be able to get anything done," Wood said Friday. "I think he gave [the media] as much information as he could and was an honest person and a great guy and a great man."
Hendry's honesty was appreciated by the Cubs' players during his tenure as general manager, which ended Friday when he was dismissed.
"It's a sad day, obviously, for me," Wood said. "Jim Hendry's going to be fine. He'll land on his feet and he'll be doing this for a long time."
Hendry met with Cubs players before their game against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field to deliver the news.
"Obviously it caught us all off guard and we were surprised to have a meeting this morning and find out," Wood said. "He spoke with us and said his piece and told us what he was feeling. It was good to hear from him. Our relationship isn't going to be over. It's a sad day."
Hendry was one of the reasons Wood returned to the Cubs, signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract in December. The details were discussed in a casual get-together after Wood and Hendry attended Ron Santo's funeral in Chicago.
"As much as he could commit to it, we got it done that night -- just me and him -- which we had done in the past," Wood said. "We had that relationship where we could talk about stuff.
"He's not your prototypical GM," Wood said. "Players respect him and enjoy talking to him, and [we] feel we can talk to him about anything at any time. He was that kind of a person. He was a great person and did a lot of great things for this organization and helped turn this organization around, and I owe a lot to him."
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts announced the change and will begin the search for a new GM.
"I'm confident they'll do the right things," Wood said of the Ricketts family. "They're passionate about winning and doing what's right for this organization.
"It's part of baseball," he said. "This is what it's about and this is what happens in the game. If we're sitting on 80 wins right now, we're not in here today."
Asked what Hendry's legacy would be, Wood smiled.
"Who's to say it's over? There's another team in Chicago," he said. "You can't write him off yet. I personally look back to the 2003 season and I think that's when the expectations turned around, and I think he had a big part to do with that."
In 2003, the Cubs won the National League Central, beat the Braves in the NL Division Series and were five outs away from getting to the World Series, but lost to the Marlins. Since then, the Cubs have won the Central in 2007 and again in '08.
Wood first met Hendry in 1995 when Hendry was the Cubs' scouting director.
"I think I just turned 18, and we hit it off right away," Wood said. "I was young and didn't know anything about the game of professional baseball, and he was younger than he is now. We had that relationship from Day 1 and got along, and [we] respected one another and got off to a good start."
Wood said Hendry's door was open all the time for players.
"I'm not sure you get that from too many other guys," Wood said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.