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Wood trying to be a sponge in first Major League stint

ATLANTA -- When Alex Wood took the mound for his Major League debut on Thursday night, the University of Georgia fans in attendance reminded the rest of Turner Field exactly where the Braves left-hander came from, as only they can. Amid all the emotions of his big moment, Wood heard them loud and clear.

"The biggest thing for me was hearing all the Bulldog fans barking out there when I stepped up on the mound a few nights ago," Wood said. "I usually don't pay attention to that too much, but when you hear that, I was trying hard not to smile out there, because it was pretty cool."

After completing his career at the University of Georgia, Wood was selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

The support from the hometown fans was one of the few familiar things about Wood's first inning in the big leagues. Though Georgia and Georgia Tech have played one game out of their season series at Turner Field every year since 2003, Wood never appeared in the annual matchup in his three years as a Bulldog. The left-hander was a starter throughout his college career and his time in the Minors, but he was called up from Double-A Mississippi on Thursday to add depth to a Braves bullpen that shouldered seven innings of work the night before.

All that newness has led to plenty of learning in the first 72 hours after his callup. While manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wood wouldn't be used as a "traditional reliever" because of his lack of experience out of the bullpen, Wood is looking to learn as much as he can from Atlanta's late-inning regulars as he continues to feel out his new role.

"There's a bunch of great guys. I'm just trying to pick their brains on how they go about their daily routine and stuff," Wood said. "A lot of my stuff will translate over in terms of just taking care of my body, in terms of the running and what they do during the game, when they stretch and how they start getting prepared to go into the game."

Wood faced the minimum in a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday night, getting some help from a pair of crisp defensive plays up the middle by Ramiro Pena and Andrelton Simmons to close out an 11-3 win over the Blue Jays. With Thursday night's appearance, he became the first Bulldog to suit up for the Braves since catcher Clint Sammons, who appeared in 31 games for the Braves between 2007-09.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Eric Single is an associate reporter for
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