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Close call for Jered Weaver in Angels' victory

ANGELS SPRING REPORT

A line drive just misses his face, nicking his ear, during Angels- 8-4 exhibition win over Cleveland.

March 11, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

TEMPE, ARIZ. — It was an ugly exhibition debut for Jered Weaver, who gave up four hits, a walk and a run and couldn't complete the first inning of an 8-4 Cactus League victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.

But it could have been a lot worse.

Travis Hafner hit a line drive that nicked Weaver's right ear as it whizzed into center field.

"The ball was scared of how I looked, so it jumped out of my way," Weaver said, his sense of humor clearly intact. "That was a good wake-up call my first time out. I crossed my heart and was glad nothing happened."

Weaver, slowed this spring by shoulder tightness, got Victor Martinez to fly to right and gave up singles to Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Garko, both bullets to left field, and was pulled from the game, his pitch count at 26.

"It was my fourth time off a mound this spring, and I left some balls up," Weaver said. "But I was just worried about how my shoulder felt, and everything felt good."

Weaver also experienced shoulder issues in 2007, opening that season on the disabled list and spending the first half trying to regain his arm strength and velocity.

"I tried to change the way I throw that year," said Weaver, who went 13-7 with a 3.91 earned-run average in 2007 and 11-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 2008. "As of now, it's not affecting my delivery and how I throw the ball."

No knock on Wood

Barring injury, there does not appear to be much of a big-league role for Brandon Wood, a left-side infielder who has shortstops Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis and third baseman and leadoff batter Chone Figgins ahead of him on the depth chart.

But the Angels' top position-playing prospect is doing what he can to muscle his way into the team's plans.

Wood hit a towering three-run home run off Cleveland starter Carl Pavano in the second inning Tuesday and in eight exhibition games is batting .417 with two homers and eight runs batted in.

More important than the numbers: Wood, whose development has been hindered by his high strikeout totals, has been making more consistent contact with breaking balls and off-speed pitches.

"I like his plate discipline," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's getting into hitting counts, not giving them right back.

"He's putting the ball in play, and when he gets mistakes he's not missing them."

Short hops

Robb Quinlan's pinch-hit two-run single highlighted a five-run seventh inning Tuesday. . . . Shane Loux, who is among four pitchers competing for the final two rotation spots, gave up one unearned run in three innings. . . . Torii Hunter made a superb running catch of a third-inning drive by Garko before crashing into the center-field wall. . . . Pitcher Alex Torres and infielder Kevin Ramos were reassigned to minor league camp.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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latimes.com/sports

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