5/29/2014 7:17 P.M. ET
Wood seeing more time in long-relief situations
By Steven Petrella / MLB.com
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."
After night off, Simmons returns to starting lineup
BOSTON -- Shortstop Andrelton Simmons returned to the Braves' lineup Thursday and batted ninth after sitting out Wednesday night's loss to the Red Sox. He exited in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's game with right ankle inflammation, an issue he's had on and off for a few weeks.
The 24-year-old said he doesn't believe it's a long-term issue at all, and he said it won't be "something that keeps bothering me."
"It was something that would have slowed me down a little bit yesterday," Simmons said. "I feel good right now and I'm ready to go."
Last year, Simmons tied a Major League record for defensive wins above replacement at 5.4 and helped the Braves finish sixth in defensive runs saved. Manager Fredi Gonzalez exhaled a sigh of relief with Simmons back without any major complications.
"Tuesday night, [Evan] Gattis scratched and Simmons comes out of the game," Gonzalez said, "and you're going, 'Oh boy.'"
Gattis went 1-for-4 Wednesday night after straining his wrist during batting practice Tuesday and sitting out that game. He started again Thursday, catching and hitting fifth.
Gonzalez, players soak up historic Fenway atmosphere
BOSTON -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez brought his son, Alex, along for the team's trip to Fenway Park this week. The two went inside the Green Monster and sat in the famous red seat, where a 1946 home run by Ted Williams, that is said to have travelled 502 feet, landed. They enjoyed soaking in the history.
After playing Wednesday night in one of baseball's most historic ballparks, the Braves considered themselves lucky to spend time at Fenway.
"This is my first time, but to see all the history, it's awesome," said catcher Evan Gattis.
Second baseman Tommy La Stella got thrown into the fire Wednesday night, making his Major League debut in Boston. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
"Unbelievable. Growing up in New Jersey, I certainly watched a lot of Yankees-Red Sox games here," La Stella said. "I have tremendous respect for the organization, and in such a historical ballpark like this, I couldn't think of a better place to make my debut."
Gonzalez appreciates the historical aspect of baseball and the nuances different ballparks provide --- Fenway, Wrigley Field, the old Yankee Stadium were a few he mentioned by name.
As for La Stella, Gonzalez joked that it's nice the infielder got to make his debut in a "small, low-key venue."
"He can always say, 'My first at-bat was at Fenway,'" the manager said. "And that's got to be something special."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.