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ANGELS FYI

Angels' Brandon Wood ready to leave triple A behind for good

Part of the September call-up, the infielder could secure a job but it depends on where free agents Guerrero, Abreu and Figgins end up this winter.

September 03, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

SEATTLE — Brandon Wood will be "out of options" next spring, a baseball term that means the Angels will risk losing their top hitting prospect to a waiver claim if they try to send him to triple-A Salt Lake again.

This is actually good for the infielder because the Angels -- or a team that claims him -- will essentially be forced to keep Wood, who has spent most of the last three seasons at triple A, in the big leagues.

"It's a comforting feeling knowing it won't be as easy as last spring to get optioned," said Wood, who joined the Angels as a September call-up on Tuesday. "But at the same time, I have to work hard this winter and be ready to win a job in spring training."

What job Wood has a chance of winning depends on where free-agent outfielders Vladimir Guerrero and Bobby Abreu and third baseman Chone Figgins end up this winter.

Wood can play shortstop, third base and first, but if Figgins, the highly productive leadoff batter and third baseman, re-signs with the Angels, there probably won't be any infield openings -- shortstop Erick Aybar and first baseman Kendry Morales are entrenched.

There is a chance Figgins could move to second base, opening third for Wood. If only one of the free-agent outfielders is retained, Figgins could also move to the outfield to free up a spot for Wood, who hit .293 with 22 homers and 72 runs batted in at triple A.

"Nothing is guaranteed," said Wood, who has been in several trade rumors in recent years. "There's no guarantee I'll be an Angel on the first day of spring training.

"But I'd love to be in an Angel uniform on opening day. That's my mind-set going in."

Wood said he would even be open to moving to the outfield, like fellow infield prospect Sean Rodriguez, who was traded to Tampa Bay in the Scott Kazmir deal, did this season. But that hasn't been discussed internally.

"He's a good athlete, and if you can play shortstop, third base and first base, you can play the outfield," Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke said. "But he's a very good third baseman and a very good shortstop, and to move to the outfield doesn't make sense.

"The outfield is where you go when you can't play the infield that well. If you can't play the infield and you can hit, you go to the outfield. But he can play the infield."

Bulger nears return

Reliever Jason Bulger, sidelined since last Thursday because of shoulder tightness, threw long toss Tuesday and Wednesday and is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Friday.

If the right-hander, who is 6-1 with a 3.54 earned-run average in 53 games this season, suffers no setbacks Friday, he should be available Saturday in Kansas City.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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