ATLANTA - The first step for Alex Wood in the process of getting his arm stretched out is complete.
Wood threw 58 pitches -- 34 for strikes -- and allowed only two hits, while striking out five and walking two in 3 2/3 shutout innings on Friday night for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves in their game against the Louisville Bats at Coolray Field.
Wood received a no-decision in Gwinnett's 5-1 win.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez had hoped for more innings, but he admitted he was fine simply waiting to see what happened.
"I haven't even talked to [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] about what the parameters are," Gonzalez said prior to Friday night's game with the Angels. "I think he's 55-60 pitches. Hopefully that gets him into the fifth or sixth inning. Then go from there. Build from there."
The start is a promising first step for a pitcher who's showed plenty of promise on the Major League level.
The lefty began the season in Atlanta's rotation, but he was moved back to the bullpen in early May, when Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd, who was working his way back from 2013 Tommy John surgery, were activated two days apart (May 2 and 4).
Wood was 2-5 as a starter with a 3.00 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .260 average. He allowed one earned run in four of his first five April starts and two in the other, and he pitched at least seven innings in four of those five appearances.
Since being moved to the bullpen, Wood made only 11 appearances, logging 15 1/3 innings with a 4.70 ERA.
The former University of Georgia star was optioned to Gwinnett on Tuesday to make room on the roster when reliever Jordan Walden was activated from the disabled list.
Gonzalez won't rush the 23-year-old Wood, the club's second-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Gonzalez estimated that he'd like to see Wood increase his pitch count by 10 to 15 per start, but he would not put a timetable on a return to Atlanta.
Coincidentally, Wood's mound opponent for the Bats was Jair Jurrjens, who pitched with the Braves from 2008 through 2012. Jurrjens went six innings on Friday and took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) and nine hits.
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less