Waiting For Mr. Wood

(Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)

Brandon Wood is showing signs of being ready to play in the majors, but the Angels might have to make room for him in the lineup; if he is in fact ready.

The Angels have waited patiently for Brandon Wood to grow into his potential as one of the top power prospects in baseball.

But now that he appears ready for the major leagues, they don't have anywhere for him to play. "Everybody in this organization sees his potential and his upside, his talent," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have great confidence in what this kid is going to be. But there is also an understanding that where the makeup of our team is, he has to earn it.

"He has to play to earn it. That's where Woody is and there's nobody that's thought about just giving him a position that he hasn't earned.

There's an opportunity to earn it.

"If you're saying he's blocked out and there's no way he can earn it, you're wrong."

Wood has done his part. Through the first 13 Cactus League games, Wood batted .423 (11-for-26) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBI. But Chone Figgins seems entrenched at third base and is a key part of the Angels' lineup as their leadoff hitter.

A shortstop for much of his minor league career, Wood has not played there at all this spring and would have a hard time unseating either Erick Aybar or Maicer Izturis.

And Scioscia has indicated Wood would not be well-served in a reserve role where he wouldn't get consistent playing time.

"We have a great team with a lot of great players in this clubhouse," Wood said of his situation. "All I can do and all I've done all offseason is think the most positive things. I didn't think about going back to Triple-A or not making the team, so mentally that was my motivation - to make the team on Opening Day.

"I know that's everybody's motivation - whether you're in A-ball or whatever. You want to be there Opening Day, playing for this team. I haven't let any negatives creep into my head. That's where I've been since we ended the year."

NOTES, QUOTES

-- Vladimir Guerrero has progressed to running the bases with the team during daily workouts and could be in his first Cactus League game by the end of next week. The Angels have handled Guerrero with care this spring while he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee.

-- Ervin Santana has been shut down because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow. Santana felt pain in the elbow while pitching an inning in an intra-squad game. An MRI exam revealed the ligament damage. He will open the season on the disabled list, but the Angels are optimistic he will be ready to pitch in April or May.

-- Minor league SS Hainley Statia and coach Alfredo Griffin each returned from the WBC - but in different moods. Statia was a member of the Netherlands team that upset the Dominican Republic in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. Statia suffered a hamstring injury and will not participate in the second round. Griffin was a coach on the Dominican team. "For us to beat the Dominican Republic was very big because no one expected it," Statia said. "But we didn't go just to participate. We went there to win."

-- Brian Fuentes will not join Team USA for the second round of the WBC after back spasms set back his throwing program for a few days. Fuentes backed out of the WBC's first round for family reasons but was asked by team officials to consider joining the U.S. team if it advanced to the second round. When the back issue kept him from throwing for a few days, Fuentes declined. He has resumed his throwing program.

-- The Angels have opened talks with the agent for John Lackey on a contract extension. Lackey is in the final year of his contract and could be the most coveted pitcher on the free agent market next winter. Angels general manager Tony Reagins said the talks to date have been "very, very preliminary." Lackey has said he would like to get a deal done during the spring - or not at all. He would rather not have negotiations ongoing once the season starts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just think it's going to be worse. I think I'm going to have surgery. After the MRI exam, I calmed down." -- Ervin Santana on his immediate reaction after feeling pain in his pitching elbow.


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