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Matt Brown's efforts appear futile

Corner infielder is batting .543 with a team-high 15 runs batted in, but is probably headed for another season at triple A.

March 23, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

SURPRISE, ARIZ. — There is little more Matt Brown can do to win a big league job. The corner infielder was six for six with two home runs and a run-scoring triple in the Angels' 18-12 exhibition victory over Kansas City on Sunday, improving his average to .543 (19 for 35) with a team-leading 15 runs batted in this spring.

But when the Angels open the season April 6, Brown, 26, will probably be in Salt Lake to start his third season at triple A.

Leadoff batter Chone Figgins is entrenched at third base, the Angels are committed to Kendry Morales at first and veteran utility player Robb Quinlan is the likely backup at both positions.

And with Manager Mike Scioscia leaning toward opening the season with 12 pitchers, there could be one less bench player.

"I'm just showcasing what I can do, trying to make them look my way," Brown said. "I know they know I can hit in triple A. They know I need an opportunity, a real opportunity, in the major leagues. I've had tastes. I've never played two days in a row."

Scioscia said Brown has "jumped up on our depth chart" and that he can carve out a role for himself with his bat.

"But we have guys ahead of him at some spots," he said. "If there's no role, he'll be at triple A."

Brown would prefer to be in the big leagues, even if that meant playing sparingly.

"I feel like I really need to be here," Brown said. "I've spent two years in triple A. I don't feel I have anything else to prove there."

A mighty wind

With winds of 26 mph and gusts up to 36 mph blowing out to center field in Surprise Stadium, the Angels and Royals combined for 15 home runs, the Angels winning the home run derby, 8-7.

The major league record for home runs in a regular-season game is 12, set by the same teams twice, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox in 1995 and 2002.

"You didn't want the game to end," said Brown, who led a 22-hit attack. "The ball was absolutely flying out of the park."

Juan Rivera hit a two-run homer and two-run single. Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli, Quinlan (one on) and Ryan Budde (two on) also homered for the Angels.

Miguel Olivo hit two, and Mike Jacobs (two on), Tony Pena Jr. (two on), Alberto Callaspo (one on), Ryan Shealy and Coco Crisp homered for the Royals. The teams combined for 30 runs and 40 hits.

"I tell you what, I was tightening my laces, looking for an opportunity to hit," Scioscia said. "Alfredo [Griffin, first base coach] and Mickey [Hatcher, hitting coach] were putting pine tar on bats. That was unbelievable."

Angels ace John Lackey was tagged for seven runs and 10 hits, four of them homers, in four innings. He gave up two runs in four innings before tiring in the fifth inning, when he gave up five runs and four hits, including two homers.

"It's not pitchers' weather," said Lackey, who threw 90 pitches. "It was a good day to hit."

Short hops

Bobby Abreu, who left camp March 2 to join Venezuela's World Baseball Classic team, will return today, giving him 13 exhibition games to acclimate himself to left field, a position the longtime right fielder has played only 15 times in the big leagues. . . . Napoli threw to second base for the second consecutive day, and his odds of being ready to catch on opening day appear to be 50-50. "It's going to be close," Scioscia said, "but sometimes that last 5% takes the longest to come."


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