Angels' decision to cut Brandon Wood painful for both sides
It had to be done. But that didn't make the parting of ways between the Angels and Brandon Wood any easier to take for either side.
With Erick Aybar coming off the disabled list Wednesday, the Angels needed a roster spot and there were few places to go for that. The pitching staff is at 12 arms; cutting one there would have placed strain on the bullpen. And with rookie catcher Hank Conger batting .333 and veteran backup Bobby Wilson out of options, there was little wiggle room behind the plate either.
And all four of the Angels' regular infielders -- Alberto Callaspo, Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo -- rank among the major league leaders in various offensive categories. So the Angels decided to cut ties with Wood, leaving them 10 days to trade him or place him on waivers, where he's all but certain to be claimed by another team.
"It's tough," Scioscia said. "We all had high expectations for when he got the opportunity in the big leagues. And he struggled. His struggles were well documented last year.
"Baseball wasn't fun for Brandon. It's not fun right now. But it will be someday and that's what we're all looking forward to. He's a great kid. But in our situation we don't have the development at-bats at the major league level that he needs. He needs to get his confidence back. He needs to go out there and play and have baseball become fun again. This is all tough on us because of our expectations that we had for Brandon. And his too. His expectations were higher than ours. That could have been part of the dilemma."
Wood, 26, a first-round pick in the 2003 draft, was minor league player of the year two seasons later when he batted .321 with 43 home runs and 115 runs batted in.
But he couldn't figure out major league pitching, batting only .168 over parts of five seasons.
Wood said he knew bad news was coming when he was called into Scioscia's office following Tuesday's 15-4 win over the Texas Rangers in which he played the final 2½ innings at shortstop, reaching base on an error that drove in a run in his only at-bat. Wood spent about a half-hour in a room hidden off the clubhouse before returning to his locker, exchanging hugs with several teammates as he went.
A number of other players, such as outfielder Reggie Willits, waited silently for some private time with their former teammate.
"I'm getting a little bit numb to everything right now," a teary-eyed Wood said in a voice that barely rose above a whisper. "It's tough saying goodbye to the guys, the coaches. I spent as much time with these guys as I have with anyone of my family."
-- Kevin Baxter in Arlington, Texas
Photo: Brandon Wood in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times