Reporting from Scottsdale, Ariz.
Brandon Wood has put himself in a decent position to make the team, but the way Angels Manager Mike Scioscia spoke of the infielder Sunday, his chances appear slim despite his seven-for-20 stretch with two home runs, a triple and a double in the last eight days.
“He’s put his best foot forward the last 20 at-bats,” Scioscia said. “But there is a lot of competition for roster spots, and a lot of things are out of a player’s control.”
Wood, once considered one of baseball’s top prospects, is trying to rebuild his career after batting .146 in 2010. To increase his versatility, Wood began playing first base last season.
But even with first baseman Kendrys Morales, who is recovering from a broken left leg, opening the season on the disabled list, Wood appears to be no higher than third on the depth chart at his three positions.
Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo are ahead of Wood at third base, Erick Aybar and Izturis are ahead at shortstop, and Mark Trumbo and second baseman Howie Kendrick are ahead at first.
Where does that leave Wood? Probably with another team. Wood is out of options and would have to clear waivers before being sent to triple A. Rebuilding clubs such as Toronto could claim him.
If Wood is not in the Angels’ plans, the team would trade him before the March 31 season opener or designate him for assignment, giving them 10 additional days to trade him.
One potential move — a trade or release of Callaspo, who was acquired from Kansas City in July — could spare Wood.
Callaspo signed for $2 million in January, but his contract is not guaranteed. If the Angels release him by March 28, they would have to pay about $500,000 of his salary.
Or, they could trade Callaspo to a team such as Philadelphia, which is looking for infield stopgaps because of injuries to third baseman Placido Polanco and second baseman Chase Utley.
Pineiro is injured
Right-hander Joel Pineiro left a triple-A game against the Chicago Cubs after two innings and 35 pitches because of tightness in his back, under his right shoulder blade. Pineiro was scheduled to throw six innings and 90 pitches.
The injury does not appear serious, but the timing could affect the team’s rotation.
“He’s stretched out enough where it might not impact him starting the season with us,” Scioscia said. “But he might start a little later.”
A day off after a season-opening, four-game series in Kansas City would allow the Angels to skip the fifth spot in their first turn through the rotation. Pineiro could be pushed back to April 11.
Pineiro was 10-7 with a 3.84 earned-run average last season but sat out most of the last two months because of a rib-cage strain.
If Pineiro is out for an extended period, Matt Palmer and Trevor Bell would be the top candidates to replace him.
First things first
Scioscia made official Sunday what has been common knowledge for more than a week: Morales will open the season on the DL, robbing the lineup of a slugger who in 2009 hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 runs batted in.
Morales also was slowed last week by a sore left big toe, a problem that may have been caused by wearing spikes that are too narrow.
Morales’ probable replacement, Trumbo, sat out his fourth game Sunday because of tightness in his right groin. But Trumbo ran the bases at full speed Sunday and expects to return Monday.