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North grad Wood to have Tommy John surgery

When Blake Wood had to leave a Cactus League game with elbow discomfort this spring, the prognosis wasn't severe.

"I'm just thankful it's nothing bad," the Kansas City relief pitcher said at the time.

The Royals characterized the elbow injury as a bone bruise and then ulnar nerve irritation. The reliever was expected to miss no more than the first six weeks of the season.

But that return timetable passed with little improvement. Now the former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout is heading for Tommy John surgery.

Wood will miss the rest of this season and at least the first half of next year. It was another blow for Kansas City, which has been beset by injuries to its pitching staff.

Wood, 26, first had elbow issues in 2009 while in the minors and missed a part of that season. But he reached the majors the next year and was 6-6 with one save and a 4.30 ERA in 106 appearances over two seasons.

The right-hander got into 55 games last year and was 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA. He had 62 strikeouts to 32 walks in 69 innings and opponents hit .254.

Wood had been trying to rehab at the Royals spring training facility in Arizona, but his elbow did not respond. He will have the surgery within the next two weeks and be sidelined 10 to 12 months.

The Suwanee resident pitched three seasons at Georgia Tech after starring at North Gwinnett. He was 10-1 for the Yellow Jackets as a sophomore and pitched in the College World Series as a junior before being taken by the Royals in the third round of the 2006 draft.