Bobby Wilson hopes to catch on
Bobby Wilson has done virtually everything he set out to do with the Angels this spring.
“I’ve shown them I can catch, throw and be a defensive presence behind the plate,” the 26-year-old catcher said. “I think I’ve swung the bat pretty well too.”
All of which guarantees Wilson nothing.
As good as Wilson has looked — he’s hitting .320 in 16 games and threw out Adam Stern trying to steal second base in the ninth inning of the Angels’ 1-1 exhibition tie with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, Wilson has no idea whom he will be employed by come Monday.
Wilson is out of options, meaning a team could claim him off waivers if the Angels try to send him to triple A, but with Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli entrenched at catcher, there is not much of an opportunity for Wilson behind the plate in Anaheim.
The Angels don’t want to lose Wilson, though, not after investing seven years to develop a player who is “definitely a major league catcher,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We would like to keep him. . . . I know other organizations value him as highly as we do.”
Wilson would love to stay too, but he is in a battle with outfielders Michael Ryan, Cory Aldridge and Terry Evans and infielder-outfielder Robb Quinlan for the final two roster spots.
One thing that might work in Wilson’s favor: He has considerable minor league experience at first base, and Scioscia said he would be “comfortable” playing Wilson there in a big league game.
“I’ve lost some nights of sleep over this, that’s for sure,” Wilson said. “I don’t even know what to think. I just know I’m ready to play in the big leagues. Every day, whether you’re a 10-year veteran or a rookie, you’re auditioning for other teams.
“If you’re in a spot like I am, you’re going to have eyes on you. I’m going to go hard and let the chips fall where they may. If I’m not going to help this team, I’m confident I can help another team. I feel like it’s my turn to shine a bit.”
Reserve outfielder Reggie Willits, sidelined for two weeks because of a right hamstring strain, is confident he’ll be ready for Monday’s season opener after playing five innings in the Angels’ 7-7 split-squad tie with the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
“That shouldn’t be an issue, unless something sets me back,” said Willits, who got about 20 at-bats over the last four days, most of them in minor league games.
“I feel really good right now. I’m seeing the ball well, and my timing is good. It’s just a matter of building up stamina in my leg.”
Utility infielder Maicer Izturis, who left Saturday’s game after three innings because of tightness in his back, played six innings at shortstop Monday night and had “no problem with my back,” he said. “I feel normal now.” . . . Joe Saunders (Thursday night vs. San Diego in Anaheim), Ervin Santana (Friday night vs. Dodgers in Anaheim) and Joel Pineiro (Saturday vs. Dodgers in Los Angeles) are scheduled to start the Angels’ three Southern California exhibition games this week.