With the 2021 season coming to a close, we are going to look back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers. The season isn’t over yet, of course, but there are a number of players who are on the injured list or otherwise won’t be playing the rest of the way, so we can start by looking at those guys whose seasons are done, and once the season is over we can include guys who are still in action.
Today we are looking at righthanded relief pitcher Hunter Wood.
Wood, who turned 28 in August, was originally a 29th round pick out of Howard College in 2013 by the Tampa Bay Rays. Wood spent some time in the big leagues in 2017 and 2018 with the Rays, started the 2019 season with the Rays, was dealt to the Cleveland Indians mid-2019, spent the 2020 season at the Alternate Training Site for the Indians, and became a free agent after the 2020 season.
The Rangers signed Wood to a minor league deal in January, 2021, and he appeared to be one of the myriad of arms that are brought in every spring to provide depth.
Wood had a strong spring training, getting a bunch of run throughout camp and being in the mix for an Opening Day roster spot. Wood did not make the Opening Day roster, but was at the Alternate Training Site before joining the Round Rock Express once the AAA season started. Wood made a pair of appearances, on May 8 and May 11, for Round Rock before being brought up on May 15, 2021, to replace Wes Benjamin on the active roster when Benjamin was optioned.
Chris Woodward immediately went to Wood on the 15th, bringing him into a bases loaded situation in a 4-1 game in the bottom of the sixth in relief of Kolby Allard. Wood got a fly out for the third out, then gave up a double and a home run to start the 7th inning before retiring the final three batters.
The two runs that scored on Kyle Tucker’s home run on May 15 were the last runs Wood gave up in 2021. Wood pitched again on May 18, going 21 pitches, and then on May 19 for eight pitches. Wood threw nine more pitches on May 21 and May 22 in relief outings. He left the May 22 outing with elbow soreness, went on the injured list, and ultimately underwent elbow surgery in late June that ended his season.
So it was a short, disappointing season for Wood, who started the year with an opportunity to establish himself in a meaningful major league relief role, and saw it end before Memorial Day with what turned out to be a UCL sprain. Wood had the elbow brace surgery, rather than Tommy John surgery, and the recovery time from that is such that he may be ready to go at the start of spring training, 2022.
Wood is on the 60 day injured list currently, and once the season is over, he will no doubt be waived and become a free agent, and the Rangers may well be among the teams that look to sign him to a minor league deal as depth this offseason.