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Bobby Wilson could be third catcher in playoffs.

The rookie is seen as a solid all-around receiver. 'I'm ready for the challenge,' he says, even against the Red Sox.

September 23, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

It's the ninth inning of a playoff game in Fenway Park, the score is tied, Red Sox speedster Jacoby Ellsbury is on first with no outs, and the Angels' catcher is . . . Bobby Wilson?

There is a very good chance this could happen in October. Though the Angels carried two catchers -- Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli -- for most of the season, they are strongly considering carrying Wilson as a third catcher for the playoffs.

The reason? Mathis, the team's best defensive catcher, is a .208 hitter who will most likely be pinch-hit for in the late innings of a close game.

And Wilson, who has extensive experience catching setup man Kevin Jepsen at triple A and has developed a good rapport with closer Brian Fuentes, is a solid all-around receiver who rates a slight edge over Napoli defensively.

A similar situation arose last Thursday in Fenway Park. Mathis was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and Wilson -- not Napoli -- caught the last three innings of the Angels' 4-3 victory.

"I'm ready for the challenge," said Wilson, who has played in only seven games this season, two of them in Fenway last week. "There weren't any nerves in Boston. Once you get out there, it's baseball, just on a bigger stage. I was a little surprised how comfortable I was. I wasn't intimidated or scared."

Wilson, 26, said the experience from playing seven games for the Angels last season helped him this season. And, of course, it helps that he's in an organization whose manager, Mike Scioscia, is a former Dodgers catcher.

"Once you're prepared, the little details of catching become second nature -- he's made me a better catcher," Wilson said of Scioscia. "I'm more scared of him yelling at me than any Boston fans."


Fever pitch

Napoli, in a four-for-48 slump, did not start Tuesday night, marking only the second time this season he has gone three straight games without starting. This had nothing to do with performance, though.

Napoli began experiencing severe flu-like symptoms and a temperature of 102 degrees in Texas on Saturday night and was admitted to a hospital for treatment and intravenous fluids.

The Angels did not want to risk other players catching the bug, so Napoli did not fly home from Texas with the team. Napoli remained in Texas on Monday and did not fly to Orange County until Tuesday afternoon.

"It was pretty bad, but I think I'm over it," said Napoli, who was available to pinch-hit Tuesday but probably won't catch until Friday, at the earliest. "I just don't have much energy."


Not hot to trot

Players who stand in the box admiring home runs too long can anger opponents. And then there's Juan Rivera, who admired his eighth-inning shot to left-center Monday night.

One problem: The ball, knocked down by the marine layer, short-hopped the wall. Rivera ran soon enough to get a run-scoring double . . . and a valuable lesson.

"That's not going to happen anymore," the Angels' left fielder said. "I have to be careful. I've got to get out of the box quicker.

"Not so much because of Mike," he added, referring to Scioscia, "or the other team, but for me."

Said Scioscia: "That's not what we're all about. But it's been addressed, and we will move on."





Where: Angel Stadium.

When: 12:30.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 980, 1330.

Pitchers: Scott Kazmir vs. A.J. Burnett.

Update: Kazmir said one of the reasons he has such good records against the Yankees (6-4, 2.53 ERA) and Red Sox (8-7, 3.59 ERA) is that he "really feels comfortable on the big stage." Today when he gets his first crack at the Yankees as a member of the Angels. Control has been a problem for Burnett, who leads the AL with 90 walks and the majors with 17 wild pitches.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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