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Scioscia's latest creation for Angels: Brandon Wood, first baseman

Injuries have forced Angels Manager Mike Scioscia to experiment with his lineups. Wood, normally a shortstop and third baseman, gets a start at first, and it works out well enough.

July 13, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

So this is what Manager Mike Scioscia meant when, after Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero went on the disabled list Friday, he said he would have to get a little "creative" with his lineups.

Brandon Wood, a shortstop and third baseman by trade, made his first major league start at first base against the Yankees and left-hander CC Sabathia on Sunday.

Wood had played all of five games at first at triple-A Salt Lake this season, but he was a relative veteran at the spot compared with second baseman Howie Kendrick, who had never played first base, at any level, when Scioscia, looking for ways to bolster the offense, threw Kendrick there in 2006.

"It took me three ground balls there to figure out there's a lot of leather in the mitt," Wood said. "But I feel comfortable there."

He looked comfortable there in the first inning, when he fielded Mark Teixeira's one-hop grounder to his left, touched the bag and fired to second to complete a double play.

But a mistake in judgment by Wood cost the Angels a run in the third. With runners on first and third and one out, Derek Jeter hit a slow grounder to first.

Melky Cabrera broke for home and would have been an easy out had Wood thrown there. But Wood fired to second in an attempt to start a double play that the Angels had no real shot of turning.

Wood got the runner at second, but there was no play at first, and Cabrera scored for a 1-0 Yankees lead.

"I probably should have gone home," Wood acknowledged.

Still, Scioscia thought Wood "handled himself very well," and said he wouldn't hesitate to use him at first base again.


Regrets, he's had a few

If Kelvim Escobar had it to do over again, he would have tried to come back this season as a relief pitcher and not a starter.

Escobar, who missed all of 2008 because of shoulder surgery, suffered one setback at the end of spring training and another after he made his only start of the season, when he gave up two runs and four hits in five innings and threw 92 pitches in Detroit on June 6.

The right-hander has not pitched since, and his shoulder is still too weak for him to begin throwing again.

"I wish I would have just come back as a reliever," Escobar said. "I don't think my arm was ready to start this year. Everything was going well until I got to 75 pitches and beyond."

What makes the loss of Escobar sting more is that he is a former closer who was also a dominant setup man at the end of the 2005 season for the Angels.

And late-inning relief in front of closer Brian Fuentes is probably the Angels' biggest need heading into the second half.


Summer bummer

The adductor strain on his right side not only cost Hunter his spot on the American League All-Star team, it cost him a trip to St. Louis for Tuesday's game. Hunter's sons, who are 14 and 13, did not take the news well.

"They were all pumped up to go, they were so excited about the home run derby," said Hunter, who will get treatment on the muscle in his groin area at his Texas home over the break. "They're devastated right now."


Short hops

Scioscia set four-fifths of his second-half rotation. Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and John Lackey will start, in that order, in a four-game series at Oakland beginning Thursday. He will choose among Shane Loux, Matt Palmer and Sean O'Sullivan for the fifth spot. . . . Wood was selected for Wednesday's triple-A All-Star game in Portland, Ore., but will not participate in the event.


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