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Wood happy to help team out of bullpen

ST. LOUIS -- For a few hours earlier this week, Alex Wood was scheduled to be the Braves starter Saturday against the Cardinals.

That was when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez considered going with a six-man rotation. But less than 24 hours later, after consulting with pitching coach Roger McDowell, Gonzalez decided to stick with a five-man rotation, which kept Wood in the bullpen.

"It's one of those things that it's kind of what's best for us right now," Wood said. "With [Jordan Walden] banged up, they need a little help in the 'pen. We've got six guys including myself who are throwing the ball pretty well. It's just one of those things that work out for the betterment of the team and that's what I'm doing right now, and I've got no problem with it."

Wood has started seven games this season and has a 3-5 record with a 3.26 ERA. A run support victim, the Braves have scored just one run twice and were shut out three times in five of his seven starts.

Gonzalez believes the 23-year-old lefty's future is as a starter, but that isn't where the club needs him right now.

"It will take care of itself," Gonzalez said. "Sooner or later somebody is going to need a breather and you plug him right back in there. And you have a conversation with him and you lay it on the table with him and say this is what we want to do and this also helps our club. It makes us better with you in the bullpen right now. I think it helps him being a young player. You can't do that with a veteran guy."

Wood said coming out of the bullpen is more of a mental thing. He has to be ready every day, instead of knowing when his spot is coming up in the rotation. Wood can also rely on his stuff more, since he doesn't have to maneuver through a lineup multiple times.

"It's one of those things where it's early in my career and right now we have an immediate need in the bullpen," Wood said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to continue to fill that role and fill that need and help us win ballgames right now because there's no time like the present."

Joe Harris is a contributor to
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