Brandon Wood's chances of making Angels appear to be dimming unless Callaspo is traded or released
Brandon Wood has put himself in what appears to be a good position to make the team, but the way Angels Manager Mike Scioscia spoke of the infielder Sunday morning, his chances appear to be dimming despite a week-long spring stretch in which Wood went 7 for 19 with two home runs, a triple and a double.
"He's put his best foot forward the last 20 at-bats, and he's played well in the field at both third base and shortstop," Scioscia said. "But there is a lot of competition for roster sports, 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 with four home runs and 14 runs batted in, 71 strikeouts and six walks in 2010, losing his third-base job in July. In an effort to increase his versatility and potential value, he began playing first base last season and has worked out extensively there this spring.
But even though first baseman Kendrys Morales, who is recovering from a broken left leg, will open the season on the disabled list, Wood appears to be no higher than third on the team's depth chart at the three positions he plays.
Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo are ahead of Wood at third base. Erick Aybar and Izturis are ahead of Wood at shortstop. And Mark Trumbo and second baseman Howie Kendrick appear to be the team's top first-base options.
Where does that leave Wood? Probably with another franchise, and very soon. Wood is out of options, meaning he would have to pass through waivers, where any team could claim him, before being sent back to triple-A. A rebuilding club, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, would probably claim Wood because it could open big-playing time for him immediately.
If Wood is not in the Angels' plans, the Angels would either trade him before the March 31 season opener or designate him for assignment, which would give them 10 additional days to trade him.
There is one potential move -- a trade or release of Callaspo, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals last July -- that could spare Wood.
Callaspo signed for $2 million in January but his contract is not guaranteed. If the Angels release him by a certain date before the season, believed to be Monday, they would only have to pay a fraction of his salary. Or, they could trade him 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.
Wood still has more of an upside than Callaspo, a decent utility infielder with a .278 career average, very little power and below-average speed. But the question the Angels must answer is whether Callaspo or Wood give them a better chance of winning this season.
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.
Photo: Angels third baseman Brandon Wood is congratulated by shortstop Erick Aybar after hitting a home run against the Padres on Friday. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press