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Bobby Wilson waits as Angels carry three catchers

ANGELS FYI

Wilson thought the trade of Mike Napoli would open up playing time this season, but Hank Conger and Jeff Mathis have gotten most of the Angels' starts.

May 07, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels catcher Bobby Wilson warms up for the game Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.
Angels catcher Bobby Wilson warms up for the game Saturday against the Cleveland… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )

Bobby Wilson is no stranger to disappointment on the baseball field. In his first at-bat in organized baseball, as a 5-year-old in T-ball, he hit into an unassisted triple play. Really.

"There were runners on first and second, and I hit a line drive that hit the pitcher in the chest and bounced into his glove," said Wilson, the Angels reserve catcher. "At 5, once you hit the ball, everyone starts running.

"The pitcher got up, ran to second and stepped on the bag. Then he ran to first and stepped on the bag. My uncle was umpiring. I was in tears. He made the call. 'Out, out, out!' I'm like, 'This game sucks!' That was unbelievable. It could only get better from there."

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It did. Wilson grew up to be a big leaguer, and when the Angels traded catcher Mike Napoli over the winter and Wilson reported to camp in great shape, having lost 33 pounds, the 28-year-old thought he would finally get his chance to play regularly.

Instead, that familiar feeling of frustration has returned. Wilson is playing even less this season than he did in 2010, when the Angels also carried three catchers, Napoli, Jeff Mathis and Wilson.

Mathis entered Saturday night with a .194 average but is doing a good job defensively. Rookie Hank Conger's productive bat (.286, three homers) and improved defense have earned him 15 starts.

Wilson has started two games this season, the last on April 10, and he has appeared in six games, with one hit in nine at-bats.

"I've talked to [Manager Mike] Scioscia about it, he knows I'm frustrated, but it's not going to do me any good to whine and cry about it," Wilson said. "Hank is playing good, Jeff has been outstanding defensively, and we're winning.

"I'm trying to keep myself in shape, do everything I can to stay game-ready. I'm doing anything I can to help the team win."

Wilson's professionalism and the insurance he provides should Mathis or Conger get hurt are among the reasons the Angels want to keep him. But he has appeared in only four games, as a defensive replacement at first base and behind the plate, since April 10.

"You keep three catchers, it's going to be very difficult to work them all in," Scioscia said. "Right now, Jeff and Hank are doing a terrific job defensively. Bobby hasn't gotten many looks. We'll try to get him some looks along the way."

Wilson is out of options, meaning he would have to pass through waivers to be sent to triple-A Salt Lake. The Angels don't want to lose him, but if they could get a valuable piece in return from a team looking for catching help, they could trade him.

"It's a holding pattern to see what is going to be the next step," Wilson said. "When the opportunity presents itself, I'll be ready. I know I can play. I just need the opportunity."

Ground-rule single

Torii Hunter's game-winning hit with the bases loaded in the 11th inning Friday night bounced off the warning track and into the left-field seats for what appeared to be a ground-rule double.

But Hunter was credited with a single and one run batted in instead of two, and the final score was 2-1 over the Indians. The reason can be found in baseball's Rule 4.11(c), which states:

"If the home team scores the winning run in its half of the ninth inning (or its half of an extra inning after a tie), the game ends immediately when the winning run is scored.

"Exceptions: If the last batter in a game hits a home run out of the playing field, the batter and all runners on base are permitted to score, in accordance with the base-running rules, and the game ends when the batter touches home plate."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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