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ANGELS SPRING REPORT

Gary Matthews, Matt Brown lead Angels over Padres

They each drive in three runs in a 12-7 victory over San Diego. Lackey looks strong on the mound.

March 18, 2009|Bill Shaikin

PEORIA, ARIZ. — The Angels let Brandon Wood play shortstop Tuesday. He sparkled defensively and again showed off the pop in his bat, but Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels are not considering Wood at shortstop ahead of Erick Aybar or Maicer Izturis.

"There's no doubt Wood can play shortstop, but with Aybar and Izturis, there's a lot of depth at the position," Scioscia said. "Aybar, when he's healthy and playing well, is a difference-maker on the defensive side."

Wood doubled twice in the Angels' 12-7 victory over the San Diego Padres.

He also showed defensive flair by charging a slow ground ball for an out, leaping to catch a line drive and holding his ground on a double-play pivot while waiting for Robb Quinlan to get back to first base.

"He's definitely good enough to play shortstop," pitching ace John Lackey said. "Aybar probably has a little more range. Aybar is probably more likely to mess up a routine play and make a spectacular play. It's probably the other way around with Wood. We'll be fine with any of them."

Wood is hitting .378 this spring, and he leads the team with eight extra-base hits. He has struck out three times in 37 at-bats. He hit .127 last spring, with 22 strikeouts in 55 at-bats.

The Angels could accommodate Wood by rotating Chone Figgins among third base, second base and the outfield, leaving at-bats for Wood at third base, shortstop and designated hitter, but Scioscia said he has no plans to rotate players among defensive positions.

"We could tap into that if needed, but I don't think we're going to approach the season wanting to move guys," Scioscia said. "You need that defensive continuity."

Bunting for dollars

Not only did Lackey hold the Padres to one run over five innings Tuesday, he also laid down two sacrifice bunts.

"I've got to show my skills for National League teams too," Lackey said with a laugh.

Lackey figures to be the best pitcher available in free agency next fall, if he gets there. If he cannot agree with the Angels on an extension by opening day -- he is believed to be seeking five years at $75 million to $85 million -- then he has said he would call off negotiations and await free agency.

Lackey said he is letting his agent, Steve Hilliard, handle the negotiations. Hilliard did not return a call for comment.

"I'm supposed to hear something back this week. We'll see. I'm not worrying too much about it. I'm just trying to handle my business," Lackey said.

Calling all Angels

Chuck Finley and Brian Downing are scheduled to be inducted into the Angels' Hall of Fame on April 7, joining Don Baylor, Rod Carew, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Grich, Nolan Ryan and Jimmie Reese in a hall that has not expanded its membership since 1995.

Baylor and Grich are the only Angels Hall of Fame members who have not had their numbers retired. No one in camp is wearing Tim Salmon's No. 15 or Garret Anderson's No. 16, but prospect Jordan Walden -- and his 100-mph fastball -- is wearing No. 31.

"Somebody needs to wear that number," Finley said. "It might have a few good pitches left in it."

Short hops

Closer Brian Fuentes gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning. . . . The winning pitcher was Jeremy Thorne, a 42nd-round draft pick last year, promoted for the day from minor league camp. Thorne wore No. 14, the same number Scioscia has worn since his playing days with the Dodgers. "He looks a hell of a lot better in it than I do," Scioscia said.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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