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ANGELS FYI

It could be Sean Rodriguez, not Brandon Wood

Second baseman might get the nod over teammate at triple-A Salt Lake if the Angels promote someone to take over for a slumping Howie Kendrick.

May 31, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

Imagine the uproar among Angels fans and bloggers if second baseman Howie Kendrick continues to struggle at the plate, the team makes a move to replace him, and it isn't to call up slugging prospect Brandon Wood.

It could happen.

Wood, who is batting .289 with 10 home runs and 21 runs batted in for triple-A Salt Lake, is the player most prominently mentioned when talk turns to in-house options to bolster the offense.

Because Wood plays third base and shortstop, his promotion would prompt a move of Chone Figgins from third base to second.

But if Kendrick, who is batting .229 with four homers and 20 RBIs, is demoted, Wood isn't the most worthy replacement candidate.

Sean Rodriguez is.

Fans remember Rodriguez as the slick-fielding but light-hitting second baseman who provided superb defense in place of the injured Kendrick and Maicer Izturis in five stints, and 59 games, with the Angels last season.

But Rodriguez, who also plays shortstop, third and the outfield, has become a legitimate two-way threat. He is batting .280 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs in 46 games for Salt Lake, and don't be surprised if he gets the call before Wood if a move is made.

"He's really picked it up," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's someone we're paying a lot of attention to. The way he's driving the ball, playing all-around, has been very impressive. [Salt Lake Manager] Bobby Mitchell can't say enough good things about how well he's playing."

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Second fiddle?

As for Kendrick, Scioscia said, "We're not contemplating a move at this point, but it's something we're watching very closely."

Kendrick seemed to find his stroke during a six-game stretch from May 18 to 23, when he was eight for 23 with three RBIs, raising his average from .230 to .247.

But Kendrick went hitless in his next 11 at-bats and did not start Saturday night against Seattle.

"At times, he looks like he's getting comfortable in the box, at times he looks a little frustrated, like he's trying to do too much," Scioscia said. "If a couple hits fall in, I think this guy will start to relax and be productive."

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It takes a thief

It's rare for an outfielder to rob a player of a home run and almost unheard of for an outfielder to make two such plays in the same game. But Angels left fielder Juan Rivera came within inches of robbing hitters of homers on consecutive plays Friday.

In the eighth inning of Seattle's 5-2 win, Rivera went to the wall in front of the Angels' bullpen, put his right foot on the thigh-high padding on the fence for extra lift and stretched out his glove hand to catch Russell Branyan's drive.

Three pitches later, Jose Lopez sent a drive to left field, Rivera made a similar effort but came up just short of Lopez's home run.

Asked whether he thought Rivera, never a Gold Glove Award contender, was that athletic, Scioscia said, "No." But, the manager added, "That catch was as good as you can make."

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Short hops

Rudy Seanez, who signed a minor league contract with the Angels in mid-May, joined the Salt Lake club Friday after spending a week and a half at the team's extended spring training camp in Arizona. The 40-year-old reliever went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 42 games for Philadelphia last season and could join the Angels in June.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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ANGELS TODAY

VS. SEATTLE

Where: Angel Stadium.

When: 12:30.

On the air: Channel 13. Radio: 830, 1330.

Pitchers: Ervin Santana vs. Garrett Olson.

Update: This is an important game for Santana, who would go a long way toward squashing the questions about his arm with a strong start. His last game, a one-inning effort in which he gave up seven runs and nine hits in a 17-3 loss to Chicago White Sox, did nothing but raise doubt about whether Santana had fully recovered from an elbow ligament sprain that sidelined him for the first six weeks of the season. Olson, who threw six shutout innings against San Francisco in his last start, on May 23, beat the Angels in his first career start, on July 27, giving up two runs and seven hits in six innings for Baltimore.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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