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VOL. 43 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 12, 2019

Sounds’ manager glad to be back where he played 2 seasons

By Chip Cirillo

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Sounds manager Jason Wood

-- Photos By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

Jason Wood played for the Sounds back in the days when Greer Stadium was the team’s home ballpark. Now, he’s returning as the team’s manager at Nashville’s new stadium, First Tennessee Park.

“Well, it’s nice to be back, to tell you the truth,” Wood says. “It’s nice to be in the confines of a beautiful ballpark like this.”

Wood was a Sounds corner infielder in Pittsburgh’s organization when he played for Nashville from 2000-01. He hit .240 with 15 homers and 83 RBI in those two seasons.

“Don’t get me wrong, that was a great ballpark as well, but to come back here and see how nice that the city has done with this is just fantastic and I know that these guys really appreciate it,” Wood adds. “I don’t think it’s quite as big, but it sits in a great spot and if you look at the backdrop that you have and the beautiful city itself this is really nice. It’s just fantastic.”

Wood, 49, managed another Pacific Coast League team, Round Rock, the previous four seasons. He went 280-283, including the 2015 American Southern Division title.

Wood likes his roster in the Sounds’ first year as Texas’ Triple-A affiliate.

“You’ve got some young talent on the mound,” he points out. “Some really good left-handed pitching, some good starters that we have that are young organizational-type guys.”

Sounds second baseman Eli White, a 2016 draft pick by Oakland, is greeted at third base by Wood.

The position players are versatile, giving Wood a lot of flexibility with his roster. It’s a veteran team with major league experience.

“This year, we have 19 guys out of 27 that have played in the big leagues already,” says Adam Nuse, Sounds general manager. “This year for sure is going to be a big focus on these players being able to fill the gaps up at the big leagues anytime they need it. We obviously want them to win a lot of games, but that’s up to the Texas Rangers … and we just go with it.”

Wood is a veteran manager who played in 153 big league games, so he knows what the players are going through as they try to get to Arlington, Texas.

“When you have a team of a lot of veterans, having a manager that understands the emotions of that – I think there’s a different type of challenge of dealing with young 22, 24 year-olds that are high prospects trying to work their way up versus some of the guys that have been up that are trying to get back up,” Nuse explains. “And as a manager you have to treat them completely different.”

Wood also excels at his off-the-field responsibilities.

“He’s great in the community and I think that’s something that our fans always enjoy, access to the manager and seeing the manager at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital visiting with kids,” Nuse adds. “That’s a big part of who he is and what he wants to do while he’s here.”

Wood managed Double-A Frisco in 2014 and Advanced-A Myrtle Beach from 2011-13. He led his teams to the playoffs all four of those seasons and he has a 583-537 career record.

Sounds pitcher Zac Curtis, a former standout at Hendersonville, Volunteer State and Middle Tennessee State, played for Wood at Round Rock last season.

“I love Woody,” Curtis says. “He might be one of the best managers I’ve ever had. I’ve had good managers in my minor league and big league career, but he is very approachable. You can talk to him very easily and he’s here for the players.”

Curtis entered the season with a 12-10 record, 289 strikeouts and a 2.62 earned run average in 213-1/3 minor league innings since 2014.

He’s played in 42 major league games with Arizona, Seattle, Philadelphia and Texas since 2016.

“(Wood) wants to see every one of us get to the big leagues, and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure we get there,” Curtis adds.

“So definitely as a player, it’s nice to see that in a manager.”

Wood is the second former Sounds player to return as a manager, including Marty Brown. The latter played from 1988-89 before returning as manager from 2001-02. Wood played for Brown in 2001.

Nashville first baseman Matt Davidson, who played for the Chicago White Sox last season, had a good first impression of Wood at spring training in Arizona.

“I’m really excited to play for him,” says Davidson, who hit three homers on Opening Day last year. “He’s a great players’ manager and I think we’re really going to enjoy him. We have so far.”

Wood made it to the big leagues with Oakland, Detroit and Florida during five seasons between 1998-2008.

An All-American at Fresno State, he led the Bulldogs to the 1991 College World Series.

As a Triple-A manager, he’s got a roster full of players capable of making the jump or returning to the big leagues.

“These guys know that they’re just a phone call away from going to Arlington,” explains Wood, who debuted with Nashville on April 4. “And that’s our job as a staff to get them ready for 7:05 at Arlington. But we’re here to win. We feel that we’ve got the talent to win this division.”

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