Wood to be clean shaven for first MLB start

Wood to be clean shaven for first MLB start

ATLANTA -- Alex Wood appeared calm on the eve of his first Major League start, which will be in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Mets. With the benefit of six relief appearances in the Majors already under his belt, Wood has been able to adjust to the bright lights at a comfortable pace.

"That's the biggest thing is getting your feet wet a little bit," Wood said. "It takes all the weight off your shoulders, and once you're there and you know you can do it, it's exciting because it'll be my first start, but at the same time, it's nothing compared to how it was when I made my debut."

But before the left-hander makes his first start in over three weeks, he will have to shave for the first time in roughly two weeks.

Under the supervision of the more veteran members of the Braves' bullpen, Wood started working on a beard a few days after he was called up on May 30. With his return to the starting role he served in throughout college and the Minors comes a return to his typical clean-shaven look.

"That's definitely coming off," reliever David Carpenter said on Monday with a motion toward Wood's beard. "If you're going to have that GS [games started] column with a '1' in it, at least shave for the day, and then it can start over again."

Wood's movement from a starting role to the bullpen has provided a few more significant adjustments than how he manages his facial hair. His last start for Double-A Mississippi came on May 25, so he's not too far removed from his pre-start routine -- from standardizing his pregame meals to getting his arm loose at his own pace.

The Braves will call up reliever Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the 26th spot on their roster for Tuesday's doubleheader. The presence of Rasmus, who appeared in two games in late May, will help take the pressure off a Braves bullpen that could be in for a busy week with five games in four days and rain in the forecast. On Sunday night, manager Fredi Gonzalez said that the Braves would take an inning-by-inning approach with Wood and his pitch count in his first start.

"I think it's just going to be -- see how I feel as it goes along," Wood said. "As long as I'm throwing well, I think I can get back up there close to 100 [pitches] if I have to. It's been three weeks, but I've been throwing. Obviously, I'll probably get fatigued a little faster than normal, but it's one of those things where my body knows when I'm going out there starting, so I'll adapt as the game goes on, and hopefully, I can get some good innings tomorrow."

As for the beard, Carpenter let on that Wood may be subject to a little more rookie hazing at the hands of his fellow relievers when he returns to the bullpen after this week's series.

"We had to come up with one real quick, and that's just kind of what we went with," Carpenter said of the beard. "His day is coming. You guys will write about what's coming. It will be well-documented."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.