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Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.

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dad explains. "If you don't love it, you're not going to make it. Alex loved it; Stephanie was in 'like.'" Tommy John Surgery — named for another well-known left-handed Dodger pitcher — was the solution to Wood's elbow problem. Tommy John had the surgery successfully in 1974 when it was new. Today the procedure is so routine Wood felt confident he'd come back fine; however, keeping his college baseball scholarship was on the line. "It's a business," his dad says. "I truly felt at any time they (University of Georgia coaches) could have said, 'Why don't you go to a junior college?' Until we drove on that campus, it was hard to know he'd be there." 'First Adult Moment' Wood redshirted his freshman year and rehabbed his elbow for 14 months. He then had a good season with the Bulldogs and was invited to the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, a summer competition that attracts pro scouts. Reluctantly, Wood said "no." "My arm was pretty gassed," he remembers. Having thrown more than 100 innings during the season, he stayed in Athens to rest his arm and refine his mechanics. "It was my first adult moment," he says, "and I look back and wonder if I had not done that, who knows what would have happened. It was the most pivotal decision I've made in my life." His next season at Georgia, his junior year, he pitched so well (7-3, 2.73 ERA) that the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the second round in 2012. He began in the club's minor league system and reached the major-league level in 2013. He performed well with the Braves, especially in 2015, but was traded to the Dodgers during the season. "It was a punch in the gut," Wood recalls. "I was a little bit blindsided … but I was fortunate to go to a contender, and there are great guys out there." But in 2016, he had a setback. He missed most of the season (98 games) with a left elbow impingement that required arthroscopic surgery on July 20. He worked his way through rehab "To this day, I can't put into words how thankful I am to Coach Hignite at Providence and Coach Bagwell at Ardrey Kell," Wood says. BALLANTYNE SPRING 2018 42 Feature Above: A neighbor helped Carol Wood edit this image to show her son's high-school pitching form. Below: When Wood pitched at the University of Georgia, he was honored with his own bobblehead. Photo courtesy of Carol Wood

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