Angels’ Brandon Wood probably will play winter ball
Brandon Wood’s last two forays into winter ball ended badly … and quickly.
The infielder was cut from his team in the Dominican Republic in November of 2008 after hitting .167 in 13 games. The previous winter, Wood was released by his team in Mexico after hitting .152 in nine games.
But Wood is so desperate for playing time — he had one at-bat in 22 games entering Friday — that he probably will return to Latin America this winter, a subject he discussed in a lengthy closed-door meeting with Manager Mike Scioscia on Friday.
“I think he will play, yes,” Scioscia said. “I think it’s important for him, and he does too. I think we’re all on the same page. It’s just a matter of determining the best environment for him.”
The Dominican league is the most competitive, but there are a limited number of roster spots for U.S.-born players, and to secure one Wood must commit to a team by September.
The Angels hope Wood can use winter ball to regain the stroke and confidence that made him their top prospect for several years.
“He needs to play,” Scioscia said. “He needs to get a feel for his swing. I think he can accomplish that in any league, whether it’s in the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Venezuela or Mexico.”
Wood started at third base in April, May and June but struggled so much — he is batting .167 with three home runs, 12 runs batted in, 52 strikeouts and four walks in 174 at-bats — that the Angels traded for Kansas City third baseman Alberto Callaspo on July 22.
With Maicer Izturis, who came off the disabled list July 20, also available to play third, Wood, who declined to discuss his meeting with Scioscia, has been buried on the bench for weeks.
“Right now, there are some guys ahead of him who are contributing,” Scioscia said. “It’s not a good situation [for Wood], but he has to keep perspective, practice hard and be ready to contribute.”
Because Wood is out of minor league options, he must clear waivers for the team to demote him to triple A, so instead of playing every day at Salt Lake, Wood gathers dust on the Angels’ bench.
Scioscia, however, would not label this a “lost year” for Wood.
“It’s only going to be a lost year if these trials and tribulations don’t make him a better player,” Scioscia said. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think he’ll be a better player for having gone through this.”
Hideki Matsui, who is batting .179 against left-handers, was not in the lineup against Toronto left-hander Marc Rzepczynski Friday night.
But with two more left-handers — Brett Cecil on Saturday night and Ricky Romero on Sunday — scheduled to start for the Blue Jays, Scioscia said Matsui, who is hitting .243 this season, will not spend the weekend on the bench.
“He’ll be in there at some point,” Scioscia said. “Sometimes when you’re struggling, it’s good to face a left-handed pitcher because it really keeps you simple and lets you track the ball a little more. At times, it can get you back in sync.”
Joel Pineiro has been lifting weights, running and doing cardiovascular work and appears ahead of schedule in his return from a rib-cage strain, suffered July 28. The right-hander was supposed to be sidelined for at least six weeks.
“I’m doing everything but throwing,” Pineiro said Friday. “And I feel like I can throw today.”
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