Wood gets to rest; Maholm gets MRI in Atlanta
MIAMI -- Sticking with their plan to give some of their starting pitchers extra rest before the postseason, the Braves decided Alex Wood would not make his scheduled start on Thursday. Minutes after informing Wood of this decision on Wednesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez received a visit from head trainer Jeff Porter, who revealed Paul Maholm was being sent to Atlanta to have his left elbow examined.
Freddy Garcia will start in Wood's place during Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Marlins, and suburban Atlanta native David Hale will make his Major League debut when he starts in place of Maholm against the Padres on Friday night at Turner Field.
Maholm felt some elbow discomfort during his Sept. 2 start against the Mets, and again this past Sunday, when he limited the Phillies to two runs in a six-inning effort that included 108 pitches. The veteran left-hander underwent a contrast MRI exam in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon. The club has not received the results of the exam.
"I would think some time tonight, we'll get a better read about what is going on," Gonzalez said.
Before this latest turn of events, there was reason to believe Wood would be chosen over Maholm to serve as Atlanta's fourth starter during a postseason series.
With Maholm's availability for the remainder of this season uncertain, the decision to give Wood extra rest could prove to be even more beneficial. Wood has started to show some signs of fatigue as he nears the end of his first full professional season.
Since posting an 0.90 ERA in five August starts, the 22-year-old rookie southpaw has allowed 11 earned runs and totaled just seven innings in the two starts he has made this month.
Gonzalez said he briefly thought about pushing Wood back just one day to pitch in Maholm's place on Friday. But the manager and pitching coach Roger McDowell determined it was more important to give the rookie hurler at least a few extra days' rest.
"[Wood] hasn't pitched in September ever or this long," Gonzalez said.
With their comfortable lead in the National League East, the Braves have already taken advantage of the chance to give Mike Minor and Julio Teheran extended rest between starts. Gonzalez said Kris Medlen will likely remain on schedule the rest of the season because he gained some extra rest when he was not used in any of the first four games played after the All-Star break.