Wood seeing more time in long-relief situations
BOSTON -- Of any reliever in the Braves' bullpen, Alex Wood has the most experience throwing multiple innings at a time. So manager Fredi Gonzalez is trying to get Wood, who began the season as a starter, into more long-relief situations so the 23-year-old can work on his breaking ball and changeup.
It's difficult for relievers to work on those pitches outside of games, because managers don't want them throwing 15-minute side sessions when they need to be available for that night's game, Gonzalez said.
On Wednesday night, Wood threw 2 2/3 innings in relief of Gavin Floyd, allowing two runs, two walks and five hits.
"We tried to get him in situations like this so he can keep working on his repertoire," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes when you go in one-inning spurts, you don't tend to work on your secondary pitches. So last night, we made him start working on those pitches."
Wood's first seven appearances this season were starts, and he fared well, but with Floyd's return from the disabled list, the Braves moved Wood to the bullpen. He's posted a 5.06 ERA and opponents are hitting .348 with a .890 OPS against him in seven relief appearances. As a starter, he had a 3.00 ERA and 4.88 K/BB ration. Opponents hit .260 against him with a .686 OPS.
"It's nice to have a specified role [in relief] instead of being a jack of all trades. That's harder to prepare for," Wood said.
Wood added that starters usually have a plan of what they want to do each time through the lineup. As a reliever, though, Wood has to play whatever cards he's dealt.
"I just have to change my mindset in terms of my game plan," Wood said, "and sometimes it's as simple as [pitching coach Roger McDowell] telling me to throw my breaking ball more."
Wood will eventually be needed in the rotation again, Gonzalez said, so him continuing to develop those pitches is crucial.
"Just because of mathematics, we're going to need him in the rotation," Gonzalez said. "Somebody is going to need a day off. He could be a spot starter."