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ANGELS FYI

Wood shows off his power

August 08, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Brandon Wood has not performed well in three trials in the major leagues, batting .134 with two home runs and 33 strikeouts in 97 at-bats. However, that did not scare off other teams from asking about him in the weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.

"His name came up a lot," Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said.

The Angels did not seriously consider trading their top prospect, and he is rewarding their patience by hitting a home run every day -- well, almost. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .392 at triple-A Salt Lake, with 13 home runs in 21 games.

He is hitting .291 overall, with 27 home runs. He also drew 16 walks in July, more than he had drawn in April, May and June combined.

"It's pitch selection, plate discipline, understanding the strike zone," said pitcher Shane Loux, who was with Wood most of this season at Salt Lake.

"His potential is endless. He's recognizing pitches out of [the pitcher's] hand a lot better and he's able to drive balls, as opposed to hitting home runs and striking out. He's swinging at strikes. He isn't chasing pitches.

"When he was struggling, he was chasing fastballs up and sliders in the dirt. Now, even with two strikes, he's a different kind of hitter. There's not very many guys I make sure I get a good seat for when they're batting, but he's fun to watch."

Wood, 23, has played shortstop and third base through the minor leagues. The Angels could have an opening at third base next season, if they decide to replace Garret Anderson in left field by moving Chone Figgins there from third base.

They also could have an opening at first base, if they cannot re-sign Mark Teixeira, but Reagins said the Angels do not plan to have Wood play some first base this month so he could compete for a vacancy there next spring.

"That's not in our thinking at this point," Reagins said.

Closing time

The Angels' Francisco Rodriguez could set two records in coming months -- most saves in a single season and, come free agency, richest contract for a relief pitcher.

Yet, as the New York Yankees invade Angel Stadium tonight, their venerable closer might be having a better season than Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has 45 saves, four blown saves, two losses and a 2.40 earned-run average. Mariano Rivera has 28 saves, no blown saves, four losses and a 1.43 ERA.

Rodriguez has 51 strikeouts and 28 walks in 48 2/3 innings. Rivera has 61 strikeouts and five walks in 50 1/3 innings.

Welcome home

The Yankees cheers that will inevitably be heard during this series might not all be directed at Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Tonight's starting pitcher for the Yankees, Ian Kennedy, was born in Long Beach and grew up in Orange County, playing at Westminster La Quinta High.

Saturday's scheduled starter, Dan Giese, was born in Anaheim and grew up in Riverside, playing at Rubidoux High.

Neither Kennedy nor Giese has pitched in a major league game at Angel Stadium.

--

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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