ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Brandon Wood turned 18 years old, his father decided to retire as an amateur hitting coach.
“He said, ‘You know, hitting is a little too complicated for me to teach you, but I can hit ground balls,’ “ Wood recalled.
So, all through Wood’s high school career, his father, Kerry, hit him as many as 100 ground balls a day back in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, they rested.
“His saying was, ‘There’s got to be 1,000 different ways a ball can hop or plays you can get,’ “ Wood said.
So far, it seems like all 1,000 have found the Angels’ first-year third baseman in the first few weeks of the season. Just as he has found his hitting stroke _ a 7-for-14 tear capped by his first home run Tuesday night hiked his average to .197 _ Wood has hit a bit of a fielding slump.
His throwing error in Monday night’s game was his fourth. No other Angel player has more than two. The Angels have only five errors in the last 11 games and three of them are Wood’s.
Maybe it was all the work he put in with his father from the ages of 8 to 18, but the Angels remain confident he’ll become a first-rate defender. Wood is a converted shortstop. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wood at times has gotten out of rhythm before making his throws.
“His history in the minor leagues is as a guy who is a very steady defender with the sensational play in his game,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s not like he’s a flashy guy who will make the great play and miss the routine play. He’s terrific on the routine play and his range at third base is really a plus.”
Wood hit 43 home runs in the Single-A Cal League five years ago and averaged 27 in his last three years in the minors, so the Angels are hoping Tuesday’s blast was the first of many to come this year. Losing Chone Figgins to the Seattle Mariners cost the Angels speed and the ability to get on base, but Wood should be an upgrade in power.
“Once you get the first one out of the way, it’s like, ‘All right, let’s go,’ “ Wood said. “Whether I start to hit a bunch of home runs right away or I don’t, it’s just good to get the first one out of the way.”
GAME OF SHADOWS
Some of the Angels hitters were concerned about Wednesday’s 4:05 p.m. start because of the shadows that will creep across the field, making it tough to pick up the late movement on Cleveland pitcher Jake Westbrook’s sinker.
“You’d rather face a real hard thrower, because at least it goes straight,” Torii Hunter said.
The Angels were getting a lot of no-shows on their 12:35 p.m. starts, so they decided to try the mid-afternoon day games. Scioscia said he didn’t get a vote when they were picking start times.
“I’m sure if anything happens really strange, they’ll adjust from it,” Scioscia said. “But it’s a baseball game and we’ll be fine. If there are shadows, guys have played with shadows before. I don’t think it’s anything that will affect the quality of play.”