Wood excited for new opportunity with Bucs

Wood excited for new opportunity with Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- One could hardly tell that Brandon Wood, fresh off a red-eye flight from California to Pittsburgh, was running on two hours of sleep. Minutes after donning his new No. 2 jersey, Wood smiled and spoke glowingly about the opportunity to revive his career with the Pirates.

Wood arrives having previously known only one organization. He was picked by the Angels in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and remained in their system until being designated for assignment this past week. The Pirates, looking for another option at short, plucked Wood off waivers.

"I'm definitely happy," Wood said of the change of scenery. "You get to know an organization for so long that it's hard to leave because you're leaving your friends. But from a baseball standpoint, I come to a good place. There is a much better opportunity for me here than there was in Anaheim."

On Saturday, Wood talked about freeing himself of the external expectations that loomed over him with the Angels. Once one of baseball's top prospects, Wood never found his footing in the Majors. In parts of five seasons, he hit .168 with 11 homers in 173 games. That was a far cry from his torrid Minor League numbers, which included 43 homers in 2005.

"I had a black cloud over my head," Wood said, speaking of the external pressure. "I would get 30 or 40 at-bats here or there and struggle, and it was like, 'Why isn't this kid hitting a home run every seven at-bats?' I always had that around my head. I'm just here to relax and play baseball and make it fun again."

The Pirates haven't specifically divulged how the playing time will be split between Wood and Ronny Cedeno at short. But Wood is expected to get plenty of at-bats. He will also be an option at third or first, and possibly at second base after he gets some defensive work there.

Upon Wood's arrival on Saturday, Pittsburgh optioned Pedro Ciriaco back to Triple-A. Ciriaco had been called up on Friday as reinforcement until Wood landed in Pittsburgh.