09/02/08 7:19 PM ET
Halos have faith in Wood, Rodriguez
Injuries have provided chances for young infielders
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez will get the bulk of the playing time at shortstop and second base, respectively, until Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick are recovered from hamstring issues. Aybar and Kendrick are with the club for this swing through Motown and Chicago, but neither is expected to perform any baseball activities on the trip.
Among the names mentioned as possible candidates to add depth were former Angels star David Eckstein, sent by the Blue Jays to the Diamondbacks before the deadline. Two other Toronto veterans, John McDonald and Marco Scutaro, also were reportedly considered.
"These guys, by playing now, they're going to let you know what they can do," manager Mike Scioscia said of Wood and Rodriguez, slugging partners for Triple-A Salt Lake most of the season. "There's no microscope on anyone. We have a lot of confidence these guys can do the job.
"Hopefully, they're going to make the most of the opportunity."
Wood made significant strides offensively at Salt Lake during a second-half rampage, ending up with 31 homers in 103 games before being summoned back to Anaheim.
A more patient, disciplined approach paid off on the homestand, when Wood had five hits in 14 at-bats, his best stretch in a series of brief trials in the big time. He delivered a career-high three hits on Sunday against the Rangers.
Rodriguez is searching for the stroke he was using to torch Pacific Coast League pitching (.306, 21 homers, 52 RBIs in 66 games). He was 3-for-13 in four games against the Rangers after starting the homestand 0-for-8.
Scioscia is impressed with the way Wood and Rodriguez have handled themselves defensively in the absence of Aybar and Kendrick.
"Defense is probably a little bigger transition," he said. "The speed of the game from Triple-A to the big leagues is different. An understanding of positioning has to be there. Like everything else, there's a learning curve, a growth. These kids have made a quick study.
"On the defensive side, they've been terrific. They're young kids, but they get after it -- and have the ability to make plays up the middle. Offensively, since they've come up, they're feeling more comfortable in the batter's box. They're on more pitches. They're going to contribute."
A natural shortstop, Rodriguez is still getting the feel of second base, just as Wood, also a natural shortstop, has spent time the past two seasons finding a comfort zone at third base.
That versatility will be a consideration when the Angels put together their postseason roster.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.