SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Wood had welcomed a fresh beginning from the get-go.
Upon being claimed off waivers by the Pirates back in April, Wood arrived eager to get the perspective of a new hitting coach and intent upon proving that it was too early to label him as a top-prospect-turned-bust.
He and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie got to work almost immediately, spending hours dissecting Wood's swing and talking about ways to make it more fluid. By the time the team traveled to New York to face the Mets in a late May series, Wood knew it was time to incorporate the changes and not turn back.
"That's when I started attacking it, realizing I couldn't go anywhere but up," Wood said. "It was time to focus. I came over here with a fresh start and had a chance to just start over from the ground up."
While the changes to Wood's swing might not be all that noticeable to the casual baseball fan, he has completely retooled his mechanics and his approach. It appears to be working, too, as Wood has hit .311 in 18 games since the All-Star break. His home run total is up to seven after a three-run blast Sunday, and the infielder is spraying balls to places other than just left field again. That, manager Clint Hurdle said, might be the best sign of all.
"When he showed up here, there was just a lot of pull side to the swing," Hurdle said. "His swing looks nothing now like it did when he showed up. He's seen how much better it looks, how much better plate coverage he's got. He's honestly self-evaluated where he is at this point in his career and is making proper adjustments."
It hasn't hurt, either, that Wood has gotten fairly regular playing time since the All-Star break. He has started 13 games since July 15. He has upped his season average from .204 to .229 since the start of the second half.
"Getting consistent at-bats on a more regular basis is only going to help the timing with your swing," Wood said. "When things go bad is when you may not have the ABs, you get four at-bats in a week, don't get a hit and you try to change. That's the tough part."