PITTSBURGH -- In deciding where to sign during the offseason, right-hander Tim Wood narrowed his choices to two cities -- Washington and Pittsburgh. He ended up choosing Washington, believing the Nationals when they told him he'd have a legitimate chance to make the Major League bullpen out of Spring Training.
Yet as a twist of fate would have it, here Wood is, getting his chance to return to the big leagues in Pittsburgh.
"I'm just thankful for the opportunity that the Pirates gave me," said Wood, one day after being promoted from Triple-A. "It's a good organization to be in, and [there's] a lot of opportunity here."
Wood's journey back to the Majors -- where he last appeared in 2010, with the Marlins -- was a circuitous one. He was sent out of Washington's big league camp early in the spring and then told the organization didn't have a spot for him on its Triple-A squad. Believing that he is better than a Double-A pitcher, he asked for his release.
The Nationals granted Wood's request on March 31, and the right-hander immediately signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates. Pittsburgh's assistant pitching coordinator, Scott Mitchell, was instrumental in that, as Wood and Mitchell have a relationship that dates back to 2004, when both were in Florida's organization.
"We stayed in contact," Wood said. "Talking to him after I got released from Washington, he said there's a good fit over here and a lot of opportunity. I jumped on it as soon as possible."
After a shaky start with Indianapolis, Wood cemented himself as the team's closer. He allowed just four earned runs in his final 22 Triple-A innings before the callup.
Manager Clint Hurdle has already mentioned the possibility of using Wood as a late-inning man.
"Everything feels really good," said Wood, who has undergone Tommy John surgery (2005), shoulder surgery (2007) and an elbow scope (2010). "I'm throwing the ball harder than I've thrown it in a while. I bounced back well, I think."