Blake Wood was going to find out he made the Cleveland Indians roster the next morning, but manager Terry Francona had heard about some players on the roster bubble feeling anxiety about their respective fates. So Francona brought his mobile phone to the dugout for the Indians' Cactus League game Monday in order to communicate with general manager Chris Antonetti. Having gotten the OK from the brass, Francona went to the mound during a pitching change in the seventh inning and told Wood right there and then: He was going north.
"When I went to take him out, (catcher Luke) Carlin was coming and I told him to stay back there a little bit," Francona said. "I went out there and asked (Wood) if he ever made the team on the mound? He was like no. I go 'well, you just did.' After that we came and talked to him the dugout but you could tell he was pretty excited."
Making the moment even cooler, Tribe president Mark Shapiro was ready with his cell-phone camera:
Wood making the team is another culmination of his comeback from Tommy John surgery on May 25, 2012. He compiled 94 strikeouts and a 4.25 ERA in 120 2/3 major-league innings, mostly with the Kansas City Royals, before he blew out his elbow. Wood logged 1 1/3 innings with the Indians late in the 2013 season, and that must have been a great feeling. But this feeling must be something different. He's always had a big fastball but iffy command, something on which he's still working, and Francona says it's coming along. Enough to make the club. But making the team is only one step in trying re-establish himself in the majors.
Francona did say that Wood is still erratic in the strike zone and struggles against the first hitter, but that he has bounced back in getting the rest of the order. Even though he was part of the team in September last year, Wood didn't truly feel like he was a part of it. With winning a spot in spring training, now it feels like he does.
"Knowing you are one of the 25 and not one of the 40 being called up, it makes you feel like you belong," he said. "It has been a long road but I'm here now. You don't know what is going to happen coming back from major surgery. With the Indians sticking with me and giving me a shot, I'm happy they did that."
We don't really know these guys for the most part, but doesn't Terry Francona seem like the coolest dude? Not only does Wood get some of the best news of his career, it happens where all of the action happens for a pitcher. Better than some stuffy office, or on the phone or via email. The best news should always be delivered in person and, if possible, on a small hill in the middle of a baseball field.
Big BLS H/N: The Deadspin.
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