SAN DIEGO -- Gerald Laird was behind the plate when Julio Teheran came within four outs of throwing a no-hitter against the Pirates last week. But when Teheran returned to the mound to face the Padres on Monday night, Brian McCann served as his catcher.
Laird had caught nine of Teheran's 11 starts this year. But his days as the young right-hander's primary catcher essentially ended a couple weeks ago when the Braves began using Evan Gattis as McCann's primary backup.
McCann went 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday's 7-6 loss to San Diego, but Gattis hit his fourth pinch-hit homer of the year, a three-run shot in the ninth. Teheran struggled, allowing five earned runs in six innings.
Laird's presence as Atlanta's third catcher provides manager Fredi Gonzalez the freedom to feel more comfortable about using either McCann or Gattis as pinch-hitters when they are not in the starting lineup. If McCann or Gattis exits the game after a pinch-hit appearance, Laird is still available to catch, if necessary.
"If you didn't have [Laird], you could still do it, but it would be a lot more difficult to pinch-hit [McCann or Gattis] in the sixth or seventh," Gonzalez said.
But Laird's value to the Braves extends beyond giving Gonzalez more opportunities to use either Gattis or McCann as a pinch-hitter. Along with hitting .271 in 57 at-bats, he has enriched Atlanta's clubhouse with his veteran leadership.
"He's a guy who everybody enjoys having around," Gonzalez said. "He can get on you in a kind of kidding way, and keep everything loose."
Rookie Wood adjusting to pitching with glasses
SAN DIEGO -- The nerves Braves rookie reliever Alex Wood felt as he made his first career road appearance at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night were not simply a product of pitching in front of more than 40,000 fans for the first time. His anxiety was fueled by the fact he was wearing glasses while pitching for the first time.
"When you get glasses, it's a lot different," Wood said. "You see better, but your depth perception is off. I got up [in the bullpen] in the seventh [inning] and when I started throwing, I was throwing it everywhere. So that's probably part of the reason I was nervous when I was out there."
Though the usually calm Wood might have felt uneasy during Thursday's eighth inning, he had no trouble retiring the only two batters he faced -- Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez -- in a span of only six pitches. The highly regarded left-hander has allowed just one run and four hits in the first 5 2/3 innings of his career, including two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in Sunday's win in L.A. He didn't pitch in Monday's 7-6 loss to San Diego.
The lone run scored while Wood battled some blurred vision while facing the Pirates on June 3 at Turner Field. An astigmatism in his eye has made it difficult for Wood to see at night. Thus he had trouble seeing some of the signs catcher Brian McCann called during that appearance. This led him to cross up McCann a few times with the pitches he threw.
While pitching at the collegiate and Minor League levels, Wood could get away with catchers positioning their fingers for him to see better. But this also allowed opposing teams a chance to see the signs.
A week into his Major League career, Wood realized he had to do something about his vision. Fortunately, while at the University of Georgia he roomed with a young man who dated the daughter of Dr. David Ross, an Atlanta optometrist who has done a lot of work with Braves players.
Ross examined Wood at 6:30 a.m. ET last Tuesday and provided the Braves pitcher with a pair of Oakleys, fitted with prescription lenses, later that same day. Oakley is expected to send Wood another pair within the next week.
• Ramiro Pena felt some right shoulder discomfort diving on two separate occasions while manning third base during the first five innings of Sunday's win over the Dodgers. He exited after the fifth inning, but he was available to play on Monday (though he didn't) and could return to the starting lineup as early as Tuesday.
• Atlanta's starting pitchers had allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive games entering Monday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the club's longest such stretch since Greg Maddux, John Burkett, Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood and Odalis Perez combined to do so over 10 consecutive starts in 2001.
Teheran ended that streak after giving up five runs.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.