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Pitching only from stretch no sweat for Wood

Dodgers lefty does away with windup, makes spring debut
Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Alex Wood decided over the offseason to do away with his windup and pitch from the stretch full-time, but he would have been doing that anyway most of his one-inning Cactus League debut against the Rangers, allowing two earned runs on one hit after walking the first two batters he faced in Monday's 9-6 win.

Wood gave up an RBI single to Nomar Mazara after putting Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo on to start the game and getting a flyout for the game's first out. After Mazara's hit, Choo came home on a double steal and error by Dodgers catcher Kyle Farmer. Wood got a strikeout and a flyout, and that was adequate enough for his first spring outing.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Alex Wood decided over the offseason to do away with his windup and pitch from the stretch full-time, but he would have been doing that anyway most of his one-inning Cactus League debut against the Rangers, allowing two earned runs on one hit after walking the first two batters he faced in Monday's 9-6 win.

Wood gave up an RBI single to Nomar Mazara after putting Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo on to start the game and getting a flyout for the game's first out. After Mazara's hit, Choo came home on a double steal and error by Dodgers catcher Kyle Farmer. Wood got a strikeout and a flyout, and that was adequate enough for his first spring outing.

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"My command wasn't great, [but] I thought my stuff was pretty good," said the lefty, who went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 27 outings last season. "Two pitches -- the single to Mazara and the changeup flyout -- besides that, I thought the stuff was pretty good for the most part, but the command wasn't fine-tuned today."

Wood said he will probably throw two innings in his next spring appearance.

"My timing and tempo are going to be the big thing for me," he said. "Mechanically, I feel good, it's just kind of getting that speed and that tempo of my delivery locked in. Once that clicks, everything should fall into place."

Adjusting to throwing every pitch from the stretch actually isn't much of an adjustment for Wood, given that his delivery from the stretch is still the same as it was last year. The reason for the change was just for simplicity's sake.

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"It just made so much sense to me from a consistency standpoint," Wood said. "It kind of raises your bar mechanically having a higher base for where you're at so that when you get off, adjustments are easier to make over the course of a season … it's not like I made some drastic change not going out to the windup. I'm doing the same thing I've been doing, just choosing to simplify it a little bit."

Last season, Wood held opponents to a .186 batting average and a .523 OPS with men on base, when he would have almost certainly been throwing from the stretch, while allowing a .238 average and a .684 OPS with no one on.

Manager Dave Roberts said any unwanted quirks that might manifest themselves in Wood's mechanics will be more noticeable now.

Tweet from @Rangers: Lookin��� good in Rangers blue, @MikeMinor36! pic.twitter.com/Nm8uL8ftFf

"Every pitcher gets out of whack at some point in time during the season, and for him, out of the stretch when you're eliminating variables from the windup, it's just easier to detect," Roberts said. "I thought the ball came out of his hand really well today, just to see him face hitters out of the stretch. His delivery was good."

Wood said Monday that he doesn't worry that pitching out of the stretch will slow his velocity. He wondered aloud why the windup even exists anymore.

"You look back and you're like, 'Why did someone create the windup and the stretch?'" he said. "Maybe … the windup was beneficial to some guys that had terrible mechanics back in the day, which most of them did. It probably could have helped them throw a little bit harder, but now guys are so far advanced with their biomechanics and what they need to do ... if you have much of a difference between the windup and the stretch, you're probably not pitching in the big leagues."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Wood