Like his teammate Dan Uggla, rookie left-hander Alex Wood was encouraged by his first game wearing using new contact lenses Friday night against the Brewers.
“It was awesome,” Wood said. “I could see. I didn’t have to worry about glasses or anything. It was good.”
He proved it by going out and pitching a scoreless inning Saturday as well, in the first work of his career on back-to-back days. Wood gave up a leadoff double to Rickie Weeks before striking out the side in order to strand Weeks at second.
“He did a terrific job,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The velocity was good to see there again. And the changeup he threw, the last pitch to (Norichika) Aoki might have been the best changeup he’s thrown all year. That ball just plain disappeared.”
Like Uggla, Wood has never worn contact lenses but has been diagnosed with astigmatism and noticed some vision problems affecting him on the field.
Wood was having trouble picking up the catcher’s signs. It wasn’t a big issue for his catchers in Double-A to put down pronounced signs that the other team might be able to pick up. But shortly after his major league call-up he realized he needed to make a change.
Wood tried wearing glasses for two relief outings and his spot start on Tuesday against the Mets, but his prescription sport glasses hadn’t arrived yet and the regular ones he wore kept slipping off and distracting him.
He thinks he may have found the solution now. After walking three batters in one inning against the Giants on June 14 and walking three more in three innings of a spot start Tuesday, Wood pitched a perfect eighth inning Friday night. He got two flyouts to center field and struck out Juan Francisco.
“People don’t realize even the smallest thing can mess with your mechanics and head position, all kinds of stuff,” Wood said. “Last night was the first night in a while I’ve felt back to myself. It was really, really good.”
The Braves haven’t been able to acquire the ace they might have wanted for the top of their rotation, but they secured the depth they needed Monday with the signing of free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd.
One week after the Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in a four-game division series, Braves general manager Frank Wren met with the team’s beat writers and discussed the 2013 season and the team’s needs going into the offseason.