PHOENIX — Alex Wood pitched two scoreless innings in his second start of the spring on Thursday in the Dodger’s 4-2 win over the Indians at Camelback Ranch.
Amid all the talk of veterans potentially filling out the back half of the Dodgers rotation, or the discussion of when to slot in 20-year-old phenom Julio Urias, Wood is often the forgotten man among starting pitchers on the team.
Elbow problems wiped out nearly four months of his 2016, though he did make it back after arthroscopic surgery to contribute to the Dodgers bullpen in the playoffs. Now he is trying to make his case to be one of the Dodgers’ five starters on opening day.
"It was definitely tough, because I was starting to feel really good and really take off,” Wood said earlier this spring.
Wood had a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts before injuring his left elbow in 2016, but in his last six starts that ERA was 2.80, with 50 strikeouts against only eight walks in 35⅓ innings. He said he finally reverted to the mechanics he had in his delivery when he broke into the majors with the Braves.
"When they traded for me [in 2015], mechanically I wasn't in a great spot. I feel like last year I was starting to take off before I got hurt, and closer to what I've been for most of my career,” Wood said. “Last year, I got mechanically 85-90% to where I needed to be, and with my mechanics this offseason I feel like it's all really coming together.”
Wood struck out two and walked one in his two innings on Thursday, allowing a hit.
"I love his tempo,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He's a competitor, and he made pitches today.”
Pedro Baez is still sore after taking a comebacker off his right hand in the first week of camp, but is improving. He played catch on Thursday, resuming his throwing program and could pitch off a mound soon.
Trayce Thompson, Kiké Hernandez and Willie Calhoun each got roughly 5-6 at-bats against Dodgers minor leaguers in a simulated game on the back fields at Camelback Ranch on Thursday. Thompson and Calhoun are expected to see more simulated action on Saturday, Roberts said, against Hyun-jin Ryu and at least one other Dodgers pitcher.
Sergio Romo struck out the side in the fourth inning in his Dodgers debut on Thursday. "He just has such good feel with the slider,” Roberts said.
Fun with spring stats: Brandon Morrow recorded the final three outs against Cleveland, becoming the fourth Dodgers pitcher to notch a save in the Cactus League, and the first one from major league camp. The others with saves this spring are Edward Paredes, Shea Spitzbarth and Michael Johnson.
The Dodgers have a split squad on Friday, with a pair of 12 p.m. PT games, at home against the Royals and on the road against the Diamondbacks. Rich Hill starts at Camelback Ranch against Ian Kennedy, and Brandon McCarthy makes his spring debut at Salt River Fields against old friend Zack Greinke.
Roberts and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will head to the road game, while bench coach Bob Geren manages at home.
"I just want to see [McCarthy] against hitters,” Roberts said.
Justin Turner will start at third base in the home game on Friday, his second game at the hot corner this spring and fourth overall. He was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as the designated hitter on Thursday.