ATLANTA -- Alex Wood counted himself lucky that off-and-on rain brought a late-arriving crowd to Turner Field for Wednesday night's game against the Marlins. In a light-hearted gesture of rookie hazing, the former University of Georgia standout was forced to carry a plush Florida Gators backpack as he walked out to the bullpen with the rest of the relievers for pregame warmups.
His fellow relievers brought as much attention to the prank as they could, making Wood lead the group into the outfield and taking turns playing with the snout of the plush gator mascot on the back of the backpack. Before Thursday's game, Wood said he expected to be carrying the backpack out to the bullpen on a regular basis after its maiden voyage the previous night.
Wood took the mound against the archrival Gators twice in his three years at Georgia: In 2011, he surrendered 12 hits over seven innings in a 5-4 loss, but as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, he turned in a dominant seven-strikeout performance in a game that Florida went on to win in 16 innings.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.