SAN DIEGO -- The nerves Braves rookie reliever Alex Wood felt as he made his first career road appearance at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night were not simply a product of pitching in front of more than 40,000 fans for the first time. His anxiety was fueled by the fact he was wearing glasses while pitching for the first time.
"When you get glasses, it's a lot different," Wood said. "You see better, but your depth perception is off. I got up [in the bullpen] in the seventh [inning] and when I started throwing, I was throwing it everywhere. So that's probably part of the reason I was nervous when I was out there."
Though the usually calm Wood might have felt uneasy during Thursday's eighth inning, he had no trouble retiring the only two batters he faced -- Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez -- in a span of only six pitches. The highly regarded left-hander has allowed just one run and four hits in the first 5 2/3 innings of his career, including two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in Sunday's win in L.A. He didn't pitch in Monday's 7-6 loss to San Diego.
The lone run scored while Wood battled some blurred vision while facing the Pirates on June 3 at Turner Field. An astigmatism in his eye has made it difficult for Wood to see at night. Thus he had trouble seeing some of the signs catcher Brian McCann called during that appearance. This led him to cross up McCann a few times with the pitches he threw.
While pitching at the collegiate and Minor League levels, Wood could get away with catchers positioning their fingers for him to see better. But this also allowed opposing teams a chance to see the signs.
A week into his Major League career, Wood realized he had to do something about his vision. Fortunately, while at the University of Georgia he roomed with a young man who dated the daughter of Dr. David Ross, an Atlanta optometrist who has done a lot of work with Braves players.
Ross examined Wood at 6:30 a.m. ET last Tuesday and provided the Braves pitcher with a pair of Oakleys, fitted with prescription lenses, later that same day. Oakley is expected to send Wood another pair within the next week.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.