Brandon Wood brought something extra with him to Southern California this weekend: a full complement of suits.
He will need the fancy threads for all the traveling he'll be doing in his first season as the Angels' starting third baseman. The Angels hope Wood also packed the power that has long made him the organization's top prospect but has been notably absent at the major league level.
"We're very, very confident in the fact that Brandon, when he gets into his game, is going to provide that," Manager Mike Scioscia said of the offensive punch the team seeks from the 25-year-old who has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Angels.
Wood has hit 160 home runs in the minor leagues but only seven in the majors, including one in 18 games last season. He said he has maintained the same approach this spring that he had in seasons past, though he acknowledged that "knowing triple A is not an option relieves some pressure."
Wood entered Friday's Freeway Series opener against the Dodgers hitting .294 with one homer and six runs batted in this spring. He also had a team-high 14 strikeouts in 68 at-bats, but he said he feels like his plate discipline has improved.
"Some of the pitches I used to swing at in years past I'm taking for ball four," he said. "I feel like I've made some good strides and they're some more strides to make."
The name game
Francisco Rodriguez walked into the Angels clubhouse Friday without causing a stir.
The Angels minor league reliever is rarely confused with the New York Mets closer, even though they are both overpowering right-handers who share the same name and spent three years in the same organization.
One is dubbed K-Rod. The other is Mex-Rod. One has 243 major league saves. The other has not pitched above triple A.
Not that there haven't been what the younger Rodriguez, a 27-year-old native of Mexicali, Mexico, describes as "goofy" moments.
Perhaps the funniest came four years ago in spring training. A day after pitching three innings, Rodriguez looked at the bulletin board inside the clubhouse and saw that Francisco Rodriguez was slated to pitch one inning against San Francisco in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The unheralded Rodriguez, who didn't speak English, packed his bag and boarded the team bus without inquiring with anyone why he would be asked to pitch on consecutive days even though he was a starter at the time.
He discovered the mix-up only after making the trip to Scottsdale, where his pitching coach told him it was the other Francisco Rodriguez who was scheduled to pitch.
Like his namesake, Rodriguez has considerable zip on his fastball. He also throws a curveball that resembles a slider. And he still receives mail intended for the former Angel.
"It's kind of funny," he said. "I have to say, ‘Sorry. That's not me.' "
Scioscia said catcher Jeff Mathis would likely play Saturday after sitting out the last two games because of a bruise on the back of his left hand. … Michael Kohn received the Fred Haney Award as the Angels' outstanding rookie during spring training after compiling a 2.89 earned-run average in 9 1/3 innings.