Angels infielder Brandon Wood gets some advice ... from Yankees batting coach
Angels infielder Brandon Wood swears there is no conspiracy. It was just a simple phone call for some advice from a hitting coach he developed a relationship with last season and who lives near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The fact that the coach was Kevin Long, batting instructor for the New York Yankees, and not Mickey Hatcher, batting instructor for the Angels, does not matter.
Long helped Wood make a slight adjustment to shorten his swing, and Wood feels confident it will help him rebound from a disastrous 2010 season, when he hit .146 with four home runs, 14 runs batted in, 71 strikeouts and six walks in 226 at-bats.
"He's an Arizona guy who gave me some encouragement last year, who I got to know through small talk, and I wanted to hear his philosophy on hitting," Wood said of Long. "Hitting is like golf. How many ways can you do it and be successful? There’s a lot of different ways; you have to find the one that works for you."
Wood, in camp for the Angels' first full-squad workout Saturday but slowed by a minor back injury, incorporated some of Long's suggestions into his winter batting-practice sessions and said he has a much better feel for his swing.
"I don’t think you’ll see much of a difference; it's just just getting back a little bit, shorten it up, compact, strong, being able to get to inside pitches correctly," Wood said. "I feel like I can take three bad swings in the cage and in my head, I know what I did wrong and what to do to fix it. That’s what makes people great, like Torii [Hunter], Vernon [Wells], Bobby [Abreu]. They know their swings. Once you learn your swing, you can take off at this level."
Hatcher, entering his 12th year with the Angels, said he did not feel threatened by Wood's decision to seek advice outside the organization.
"I’ve always left it open with these guys to get ideas from other people -- I did that when I played," Hatcher said. "But I want to know about that when they come to me, to make sure I understand what they’re trying to do, if these are the mechanics they want to use. I want to make sure I’m on the same page with them because I’m not here to mess them up more."
It is important, Hatcher said, for Wood to talk to him about his work with Long, and as of Saturday morning, that conversation had not taken place.
"He hasn’t talked to me about it, but I haven’t had a chance to get in the cage with him," Hatcher said. "That’s the first question: What did you do in the off-season, who did you work with? There's a lot of good hitting people. Wherever they’re going to hit, there’s always going to be a hitting coach that wants to coach you. That’s not going to create anything bad."
-- Mike DiGiovanna, reporting from Tempe, Ariz.
Photo: Brandon Wood. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images