Wood carving out role for himself in 'pen

Reliever, who hadn't pitched in Majors since '14, off to strong start

Wood carving out role for himself in 'pen

CINCINNATI -- Blake Wood knew his stats from Spring Training were less than impressive. He also knew he wasn't worried about them. He was confident he would be ready for his first season with the Reds' organization.
 
So far, so good for the 6-foot-5, 240-pound right-hander who is trying to carve out a significant niche for himself in the Cincinnati bullpen.
 
Wood has opened the season with three appearances in the first five games, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He's given up just one hit with two walks and three strikeouts, and he worked out of two jams -- one inherited, one of his own making -- in Saturday's 5-1 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park.
 
"The thing for me and for everybody, it's just stay in the moment and try to make pitches," said Wood. "No matter what situation you're in -- you're up five, down five, tie game, guys on. I'm just trying to execute pitches. More often than not, if you do that, you're going to do OK."
 
Wood replaced starter Raisel Iglesias with two outs in the sixth inning and the Reds leading, 3-1, on Saturday. The Pirates had scored on a single by Josh Harrison and had runners at second and third after a throwing error charged to Billy Hamilton.
 
Wood ended the threat by getting Jordy Mercer to pop out to first baseman Joey Votto in foul territory. He came back out for the seventh inning to the same score and walked pinch-hitter Matt Joyce before surrendering a double to John Jaso. This is where the whole "stay-in-the-moment" mantra came in handy.
 
Wood got Andrew McCutchen to hit a sharp grounder to Votto, who looked Joyce back to third before stepping on the bag. Votto then turned and fired to shortstop Ivan De Jesus Jr., who tagged a diving Jaso out before he could stretch his arm back to second base. The Pirates challenged the call, but it stood after video replay.
 
Wood then struck out David Freese swinging to end the threat.
 
This is Wood's first time in the Major Leagues since 2014, when he appeared in seven games for Cleveland. He pitched in 106 games for Kansas City in 2010-11, but had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2012. He spent last season pitching for Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate at Indianapolis. The Reds offered him a Major League contract last offseason, but little else in terms of guarantees.
 
"They signed me here for a reason," said Wood. "I think they understood what I was doing, what I was working on, and they knew what kind of guy I could be. That's a credit to them for trusting me that I'd be able to get the job done once the season started."
 
So far, so good.

Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.