Opening Day starter Alex Wood takes mound for Athletics against Reds

Oakland Athletics Opening Day starter Alex Wood is set to face off against the Reds today

Oakland Athletics Spring Training
Oakland Athletics Spring Training / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The Oakland Athletics will face off in a split squad matchup this afternoon, with Opening Day starter Alex Wood part of the team hitting the road to take on the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, Arizona.

Manager Mark Kotsay came out earlier this week and announced that the newly acquired right hander would lead the team next Thursday night against the Cleveland Guardians. It will be Wood's first career Opening Day start.

Wood has spoken of being humbled by the chance to lead the team in their first game of the year, and one has to wonder if it was part of the draw in coming to Oakland in the first place. Athletics fans on Twitter mused about the merits of Paul Blackburn and JP Sears, both of whom seemed more likely candidates to earn the Opening Day start than Wood.

Despite the fact that Blackburn and Sears would have been good choices for Kotsay, the young manager decided that veteran experience was the most pertinent factor.

Wood enters today's affair with a 4.76 spring ERA, though his FIP sits at a discouraging 6.82. He's striking out just more than a batter per inning, which would be a touch higher than his career mark of 8.42 K/9.

The Athletics take about half of their Opening Day lineup with them to the Reds' park in Goodyear. Outfielders Brent Rooker, JJ Bleday, and Seth Brown will look to capitalize early on, keeping their hot streaks alive.

Utilityman Max Schuemann earns the start in left field and will look to continue to impress Kotsay, who has spoken highly of Schuemann recently. Kotsay spoke about Schuemann's ability to play anywhere on the diamond and his willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

Schuemann won't start the year in Oakland but depending on how the injuries play out over the summer, he could get the opportunity to make his major league debut at some point this year.

The Reds counter with righty Graham Ashcraft on the mound. Ashcraft got off to a hot start in 2023 but lumbered to a 4.76 ERA in 145 innings. He has a 7.00 ERA during spring training but is penciled in to the Reds rotation to start the year. First pitch is at 1:05 pm PST today.