Braves top pitching prospect Alex Wood shined in Double-A Mississippi with a 1.26 ERA in 10 starts before being called up.
ATLANTA — Braves rookie pitcher Alex Wood has a seeing problem.
He couldn’t see the signs his catcher was showing with his fingers during night games unless the catcher showed them blatantly and openly.
That made it easier for other teams to pick up the signals. But that wasn’t really an issue in the minor leagues.
“Up here, you need a good rhythm, not have any hiccups,” the former University of Georgia left-hander said. “Down there, it didn’t really matter. They could steal signs and I could still get them out.”
That was evident from Wood’s 1.26 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 57 innings during 10 AA starts this season.
But, as he said, he’s in the big leagues now, and he and the Braves couldn’t afford to have the catcher put down his signals openly without trying to conceal the hand with his thighs.
That’s just what happened during Wood’s second major league appearance June 3, when he couldn’t see what catcher Brian McCann was calling.
Wood was charged with two hits, a run and a walk in two innings that night. He hasn’t pitched without glasses since.
He was fitted for a temporary pair of metal-rimmed Oakley glasses before the Braves left Atlanta and wore them during two appearances against the Dodgers during the series that ended Sunday. Wood gave up just one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings in those games and struck out three Dodgers in his two-inning stint Sunday.
A new pair of custom-made prescription sports glasses is expected to be waiting for him when the Braves get back to Atlanta after the San Diego series that started Monday.
“No. I’ve always had trouble seeing at night, because I’ve got a bad astigmatism,” said Wood, 22. “But I’ve just always been able to figure it out, by just blatantly (showing) the signs. If I can see them, then everybody can see them. You can’t afford to help any (opponent), in terms of making it easier for them to see the signs or try to pick off our signs.”
MEDLEN CAMPAIGNS FOR HIS SPOT: Kris Medlen is the only one of the Braves’ current starting pitchers who has bullpen experience, but the right-hander hopes that doesn’t cause team officials to consider moving him back to the bullpen when starter Brandon Beachy comes off the disabled list this month.
“I’ll let it be known that I don’t want to go down there (to the bullpen),” Medlen said. “I don’t. At all. But it’s out of my hands. I mean, if it happens, obviously it happens. I’m a team player.”
GATTIS STAYS RED-HOT: Evan Gattis hit his fourth pinch home run of the season in the ninth inning Monday, leaving him just one short of tying the club single-season mark of five set by Butch Nieman in 1945. Gattis is 6-for-8 with 11 RBI in his eight pinch-hit appearances.
HEYWARD ON FIRE; TEHERAN COOLS OFF: Jason Heyward homered twice in Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Padres. Heyward has nine multi-hit games in 22 contest since coming off the disabled list May 17.
Julio Teheran, meanwhile, cooled off Monday. Teheran, who allowed one hit and struck out 11 in his last outing June 5 against the Pirates, gave up five runs on six hits in six innings in Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Padres. He served up homers to Logan Forsythe and Will Venable, the latter a three-run shot in the fourth inning. The outing snapped Teheran’s six-game streak of quality starts dating back to April 29.