Wood looking forward to his return to Atlanta

Wood looking forward to his return to Atlanta

LOS ANGELES -- The last time Alex Wood pitched at Turner Field, it was for the Braves against the Dodgers.

Turner Field hasn't changed much in the eight months that have passed, but everything has for Wood, whose next start at Turner Field will be Tuesday night, this time for the Dodgers against his old team.

"I've had it circled on my calendar for a while," said Wood. "I'm excited about it, have a lot of family coming in for it, my friends. That's where I lived. It'll be fun, for sure."

Wood went to the University of Georgia, was drafted by the Braves in 2012 and pitched in Atlanta until last July 30, when he was the key acquisition for the Dodgers in the eight-player trade that sent Hector Olivera to the Braves.

That trade came nine days after Wood pitched into the seventh inning and beat the Dodgers at Turner Field. Only 24 at the time, Wood thought he was part of Atlanta's rebuilding future.

"I was pretty much caught off guard with the whole trade," he said. "Everybody likes to think they know what's going on, but obviously you never really know. It's funny how things work out."

Now he's part of the Dodgers' future. Wood's final two months with the Dodgers last year were mixed. He went 5-6 with a 4.35 ERA and was dropped from the starting rotation in the playoffs. During the offseason, club officials excused his drop in velocity by saying Wood had arrived after the trade with an ankle injury the club hadn't disclosed.

Offseason acquisitions of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to join Clayton Kershaw and Brett Anderson, along with the expected return from shoulder surgery of Hyun-Jin Ryu, had Wood on the bubble to return to the rotation entering Spring Training.

But Ryu still is out and Anderson is back on the sidelines, putting Wood right back into the rotation as part of the present as well as the future.

In his first start this year in San Francisco, he held the Giants scoreless for four innings before allowing five of the next 10 batters to score, reviving criticism that his unorthodox delivery is solvable by the opposition the third time through a lineup.

No such criticism was heard after his next start, when he cruised three times through Arizona's lineup for seven-plus innings of a 3-1 win. With an extra day of rest, Wood now faces a Braves team that just swept the Marlins.

"I played my whole career with [manager] Fredi Gonzalez. Played with Jace Peterson, Nick Markakis, A.J. Pierzynski. A lot of guys I know over there, the whole staff is there. I always enjoyed throwing there. Hopefully they get a decent crowd on Tuesday. I'll be leaving a bunch of tickets and we'll see what happens.

"It's going to be weird walking out of the other dugout. I've already thought about it. I hope it won't take too much time to get used to it."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.