Pirates give waiver pickup Wood chance to salvage career

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For Brandon Wood, joining the Pirates provides him with a shot at redemption.

The infielder, claimed off waivers Friday from the Los Angeles Angels after they designated him for assignment Tuesday, knows what a new uniform could do for his career.

"The Angels had to make a move, I understand that," said Wood, who had two hits in his 14 at-bats this season for them. "Now, for me, this is an unbelievable opportunity. I'm fortunate for my time and my opportunity with the Angels, I am. But now, this is an all new opportunity and, really, a chance to redeem myself."

Wood, 26, was the Angels' first-round pick in 2003. He hit 43 home runs in Class A in '05 and batted .321 with 31 home runs in Class AAA in '08. Once he reached the majors, Wood stumbled, hitting .168 lifetime with a .197 on-base percentage. Last season, he hit .146 in 81 games with 71 strikeouts and 33 hits.

He should be in uniform tonight for the Pirates against the Washington Nationals.

"Might be a little tired, but I'll be there," he said Friday night from Los Angeles.

Wood was expected to fly from Los Angeles on a red-eye with a layover in Chicago. After traveling all night, he is scheduled to land in Pittsburgh about 8:45 a.m., catch a little sleep and then go to PNC Park.

And once he arrives?

"Brandon obviously comes with a high pedigree as a prospect," general manager Neal Huntington said. "He's had some struggles at the major league level. We felt like it was a good addition and a good chance to take for the organization."

Wood primarily has played shortstop and third base, but he also will play first base and second for the Pirates, manager Clint Hurdle said.

"I'm coming there to do whatever they want me to do," Wood said. "Obviously, I want to play every day. Whether you're the high school baseball player or wherever you play, you want to be an everyday player. But I just want to get to Pittsburgh and do what I can to succeed, and I really am excited to work with someone like Clint Hurdle."

With Wood's addition, the Pirates had to make a move. Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez was on the short end of that.

He went from the high of achieving his first major league hit Thursday night in Miami, to being designated for assignment Friday after the Pirates picked up Wood.

As for Rodriguez's future with the Pirates?

"There is a process that we have to go through," Huntington said. "The first is the ability to see if there's a trade partner out there. The second is he'd have to clear waivers. We will work through those two processes first and go from there."

Time for review

As he sat in his office Friday afternoon before the game was rained out, Hurdle had ample time to digest his team's most recent series against the Florida Marlins.

It was a series in which the Pirates were swept in the three games and outscored, 21-5. They also struck out 30 times and didn't score a run in the first two games.

"I think the only thing we got out of it were hotel points and flying miles," Hurdle said of the trip to Miami.

"So, we look to do better at home."

Ascanio is injured

Right-handed pitcher Jose Ascanio threw just three pitches in a rehabilitation start Thursday night in Indianapolis before he was struck on the right side of the face with a line drive. He was removed from the game, taken to a hospital and, after having tests, was diagnosed with a facial contusion.

His status is uncertain.

Same rotation, new days

With the game Friday being rained out, the Pirates rotation will remain the same, but just be pushed back a day. Jeff Karstens will now start tonight against Washington's Livan Hernandez, Kevin Correia will pitch Easter Sunday for the Pirates and Paul Maholm Monday.


Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com .


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