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Spring is no time to relax, Scioscia says

March 27, 2010|Mike DiGiovanna

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Mike Scioscia cut off a reporter Friday before the question could be completed, the Angels' manager instantly disagreeing with the premise that Brandon Wood is more relaxed because he knows the third-base job is his.

"I don't think Brandon knows the job is his -- that wouldn't be best for Brandon right now," Scioscia said. "He needs to compete in spring training, show us the things we know he can do, bring his game onto the field and earn a position and playing time."

Though Scioscia said Wood will have "first crack" at the position, the 25-year-old hasn't exactly seized the job, leaving the door open for utility infielder Maicer Izturis to gain more starts at third.

Wood went one for four with a triple and two strikeouts in Friday's 5-3 exhibition loss to the San Francisco Giants and is batting .250 with a team-leading 12 strikeouts in 52 at-bats this spring. But he has shown better plate discipline, with six walks, and has looked sharp on defense.

"The relaxation with Woody will come with confidence as he gets out there and performs well," Scioscia said. "I don't think a player ever wants to be in a state of relaxation because you know a position is yours.

"It's obvious Erick Aybar is our shortstop. He's out there every day in practice and in games playing to win a position. Torii Hunter is our center fielder, but he's working in practice, playing these games like he's a rookie trying to win a position. That's the edge these guys need, and that's where Brandon is."

Down on the farm

Jered Weaver, the Angels' expected opening-day starter, threw 82 pitches and allowed three home runs in six innings of a triple-A game against the Oakland Athletics on Friday in Phoenix.

Weaver was scheduled to pitch in the big league game against the Giants, but Scioscia moved the right-hander to the minor league game so the Angels could better monitor his workload and pitch count.

Reliever Scot Shields also pitched in the triple-A game, allowing an unearned run in two-thirds of an inning and throwing 22 pitches. Catcher Mike Napoli hit a solo home run, struck out three times and was unable to throw out the one runner who stole second off him, and outfielder Terry Evans had two hits and two runs batted in.

On the mend

Reserve outfielder Reggie Willits, out for two weeks because of a right hamstring strain, ran the bases at "about 90%" for a third straight day Friday and hopes to return to action this weekend.

Willits, a valuable bench player because of his ability to play all three outfield positions, bunt and pinch-run, probably will play in a few minor league games in which he can maximize his plate appearances by batting in every inning.

"It's not in my personality to sit around -- I'm tired of it," Willits said. "I want to play."

Short hops

Bobby Abreu was held out of Friday's game because of tightness in his right forearm, but the right fielder is expected to play Saturday. . . . Former outfielder Tim Salmon is to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Angels' season opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 5.



San Francisco 5, Angels 3

AT THE PLATE: Leadoff batter Erick Aybar had three hits, including two singles off Giants ace Tim Lincecum and a run-scoring triple that tied the score in the seventh inning. Howie Kendrick added an RBI single in the seventh, and Brandon Wood tripled and scored on Bobby Wilson's bloop single in the fourth.

ON THE MOUND: Top pitching prospect Trevor Reckling looked sharp in the first three innings, allowing no runs and two hits, but the 20-year-old left-hander tired in the fourth and fifth, when he walked three and gave up two runs. Reliever Jason Bulger retired the side in order and struck out one in the sixth inning.

EXTRA BASES: Hideki Matsui made his second spring start in left field and played four innings, catching the only ball that was hit to him, Edgar Renteria's routine fly in the third. "He read it very nicely off the bat," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He didn't have to move that far. He looked fine."

UP NEXT: Joe Saunders is scheduled to start Saturday against San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito in a 1 p.m. game in Tempe, Ariz.

ON THE AIR: TV: FS West; Radio: 830.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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