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Braves add former UGA star Wood to bullpen

ATLANTA -- After going a man short in the bullpen for two weeks, the Braves now have a full compliment of seven relievers.

That was good news for 2012 second-round draft choice Alex Wood, who was promoted from Double-A Mississippi on Thursday. But it was bad news for third baseman Juan Francisco, who was designated for assignment to make room on the Braves' 25-man roster.

Chris Johnson will now take over as the full-time third baseman, while Wood gives the Braves a second lefty in a bullpen depleted by the losses of Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters to Tommy John surgery.

Francisco, who is out of minor league options, was hitting .241 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 35 games, but had just three hits in his last 30 at-bats and had struck out 14 times. If not traded or released, he would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.

Johnson earned the right for full-time duty, posting a .346 average with three homers and 14 RBIs over 38 games while platooning with Francisco.

With the emergence of Evan Gattis, the Braves had to make a tough choice to clear a spot for a 12th pitcher. In the end, they decided to go with three catchers and part ways with Francisco.

"It's a good, workable roster," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We wanted to go to 12 (pitchers)."

Kris Medlen being forced out of his start on Wednesday after two innings when he was hit by a line drive moved up the timetable for the Braves to add a reliever and Wood found himself at Turner Field on Thursday instead of making a start for Mississippi.

The 22-year-old former University of Georgia pitcher was leading the Southern League with a 1.26 ERA and had a 4-2 record in 10 starts. He had 57 strikeouts to 15 walks in 57 innings and opponents were batting .195 against him.

Working out the bullpen is a new experience for Wood. But he impressed the Braves in spring training with his deceptive herky-jerky delivery and mid-90s fastball, then dominated minor league hitters at Mississippi.

"It's unbelievable to think that a year after be drafted I'm here," said Wood, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Thursday night's 11-3 victory over Toronto. "Hopefully, I'll be able to help out the bullpen."

Comments

kevin 1 year, 3 months ago

It has only been the "rookies" that have combined to win games for the Braves thus far. I'd like to know how much was wasted paying all the "pros" and the poor "Trades" that the Braves have made for this year. Most of the "pros" can't hit .200!! Maybe I should mention the consistent "errors" being made by the "pros" each game. I never did like the "Upton" trade for Prado. I always said this will be a bust. BJ isn't worth a rookies pay so far.

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