KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Alex Wood allowed an unearned run in four innings for the Atlanta Braves in a 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in a game between split squads.
Wood went into spring training as the projected fifth starter in the Braves' rotation, but after injuries to Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy that might keep them out for the start of the season, and in Medlen's case, likely much longer, Wood is becoming much more important.
He struck out two Wednesday and has not allowed an earned run in nine innings this spring.
To help fill Medlen's spot the Braves agreed Wednesday with Ervin Santana on a $14.1 million, one-year contract.
Chris Young allowed two runs in three innings in his latest effort to crack the Nationals' starting rotation. He spent all of last season in the minors. Young struck out three and allowed a home run to Freddie Freeman.
Nationals: Young has been battling arm injuries and has a 4.50 ERA as he tries to earn a job on a rotation that likely will include Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler.
Braves: Wood was sharp once again in his longest outing of spring training. He knows he will be counted on at the start of the season because of the injuries. "No matter where I start, it has no effect in terms of my mentality," Wood said. "If you asked me at the start of spring training, I would tell you I was ready to go on opening day."
Wood said he feels fine as spring training reaches the halfway mark.
"I'm not trying to do anything special," he said. "We were playing the Nationals today, and I'll see them a lot this year, so I didn't want to give anything away. It's coming together."
Braves: Pitchers Gavin Floyd and Johnny Venters both threw bullpen sessions as they attempt to recover from elbow ligament-replacement surgery.
Braves: Freddy Garcia will start on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The veteran is looking for a chance at earning a spot in the Braves' rotation. He pitched briefly in Atlanta last season.
Nationals: The Nationals optioned LHP Felipe Rivero to Double-A Harrisburg and sent RHP A.J. Cole to minor league camp.
Braves: After hitting only three homers in its first 14 games, Atlanta has found some power. Freddie Freeman, who hit 23 homers last season, connected for his first of spring training on Wednesday. Dan Uggla has two in the past three games, and Jason Heyward has his three in the exhibition season.
BRAVES 3, MARLINS 1
JUPITER, Fla. — Evan Gattis hit his first homer of spring training, a fourth-inning solo drive Wednesday as an Atlanta Braves' split squad beat the Miami Marlins 3-1.
Gattis batted .368 with six homers during spring training last year — a fast start he attributed to playing winter ball. He skipped winter ball this offseason.
Now Gattis feels like he's starting to find his groove. He went 1 for 3 and raised his average to .226.
"That's what he can do for us swing the bat and put one in the seats real quick," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Henderson Alvarez allowed one run and five hits in 3 2-3 innings, giving up the home run on a sinker. In his first start of spring training, Alvarez retired nine straight batters against St. Louis on Friday. That was his first game action since pitching a no-hitter on the final day last season.
B.J. Upton's hit was the first off Alvarez since Cameron Rupp's seventh-inning single for Philadelphia on Sept. 24.
"I wasn't focused on not allowing another hit, I was just more focused about getting my work in and continuing to prepare for opening day," Alvarez said through an interpeter.
In his second appearance for the Marlins, Carlos Marmol allowed three hits in 1 1-3 scoreless innings. He induced an inning-ending, double-play grounder from Jordan Schafer in the fifth after Ramiro Pena reached on an error by second baseman Derek Dietrich.
Atlanta scored two unearned runs off Steve Cishek in the eighth. Rob Brantly homered off Cody Martin with two outs in the ninth.
Atlanta: Yunesky Maya allowed three hits in three scoreless innings. The 32-year-old right-hander is likely to begin the season in the minors.
"He's a guy we are looking for, if he does not break camp with us to go to Atlanta, maybe somewhere down in the middle of the season he can help us," Gonzalez said.
Miami: Alvarez threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of 15 batters.
"I try to throw strikes at the beginning, try to let they batter swing, try to get through the inning quick," Alvarez said.
Marlins second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring) and utility man Jeff Baker (quadriceps) should return to game action soon.
"Both are feeling much better," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "They are going to do some light activity today and if everything goes well, go through all baseball activity tomorrow. I wouldn't rule out them playing in the next couple days."
After watching starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy go down with injuries this spring, Atlanta agreed to a $14.1 million, one-year contract with free agent Ervin Santana.
Santana threw a bullpen at the Braves spring training complex on Wednesday, which Gonzalez said went well. Despite his late entrance to camp, Santana could be ready for the start of the season.
"It will be close," Gonzalez said. "We are kind of keeping our fingers crossed that we can get him enough innings where he can start for us."
CHECK THE RUNNER
Alvarez and Maya both picked runners off first in first inning. Maya was also charged with a balk later in the frame.
NEXT TO CLOSE
Should Cishek need a day off during the regular season, Redmond said he could turn to either A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn or Marmol. Ramos closed in the minor leagues, and Marmol has been a closer at the major league level. The inclusion of Dunn was a bit of a surprise.
"I would have no hesitation putting him out there," Redmond said.
Right-hander Michael Brady and outfielder Kyle Jensen were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Left-hander Grant Dayton, right-handers Angel Sanchez and Jose Urena, catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Brent Keys were optioned to Double-A Jacksonville. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, Jesus Sanchez and Colby Suggs were reassigned to minor league camp along with left-hander Justin Nicolino and infielder Avery Romero.