Wood gets start in memorable place

Wood gets start in memorable place

CHICAGO -- Brandon Wood has fond memories of the Windy City.

"You always remember your first hit, your first homer and the first day you're called up to the big leagues," Wood said. "It was here [U.S. Cellular Field] last year [April 29] off Bobby Jenks, the ninth inning, my ninth at-bat in the big leagues. It was about time to get it done.

"I remember seeing his curveball in Spring Training, and it was nasty. I went up thinking, `I want to avoid that curveball if I can.' He threw me a fastball leading off, middle in, and I hit it hard. We were leading at the time; we'd faced [Mark] Buehrle that day."

Wood was back at shortstop, his original position, on a perfect Saturday, with Maicer Izturis getting the day off. This was his first Major League start as a shortstop, having played almost exclusively at third base last season after getting his feet wet at the position in the spring.

At Triple-A Salt Lake this season Wood has played shortstop primarily.

"Short or third, it doesn't matter now," he said. "I feel comfortable at both positions. Third base feels as natural as if I've been playing there."

He felt his stroke coming around before he was called up after Erick Aybar's dislocated right pinkie forced him to the 15-day disabled list in Toronto in the first inning against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

With Aybar expected to miss about a month, Wood comes into focus as a valuable backup at both left-side spots. Third baseman Chone Figgins played one game, Wednesday night, in his recovery from a right hamstring strain and has missed the past three with what he described as "soreness in the whole leg."

Robb Quinlan, who started two double plays behind Joe Saunders in Friday night's win, was back at third base on Saturday and hitting second.

Wood's partner up the middle, second baseman Sean Rodriguez, has excelled defensively in the absence of Howie Kendrick. Wood and Rodriguez played together at Salt Lake this season during that club's incredible 22-1 run to start the season.

"From A-ball to now, it's really fun to see how his maturity level has risen," Wood said of Rodriguez. "To go out and pick it after you've had a bad at-bat isn't easy for a young guy. I know how that is. But he's tough. He's thinking, `If I'm not swinging the bat well, I can save a couple runs on defense.'

"We have a lot of guys who can play up the middle. It's really about going out and playing the game."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.