12/09/09 7:30 PM EST
Scioscia sheds light on post-Figgins plan
Angels skipper touches on leadoff possibilities, third base
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The Angels' manager knows he'll have a new leadoff man and third baseman with Chone Figgins moving north to Seattle, but Scioscia is in no hurry to make those decisions."Chone is definitely a guy we wanted to see in our uniform next year, and he got a terrific opportunity in Seattle," Scioscia said, Figgins having departed for a four-year deal with a vesting option for a fifth season. "He'll impact that team much like he did ours. "I think he's as good a catalyst as there is in the game, and I think the way he played defense at third base is something someone ought to pay a lot of attention to. We've got some big shoes to fill." Wood, it appears, will be given every opportunity to nail down a steady job at third. Izturis, a proven commodity, is the safety net, waiting in the wings. Izturis, who is capable of handling shortstop and second base as well as third, figures to play frequently and is a leading candidate to lead off along with Aybar, the acrobatic shortstop. "Izzy is a versatile player," Scioscia said. "So, just like last year, where he got starts at second, short and third, I think we could get him in the lineup enough on the defensive side where he would get enough at-bats to contribute. "Now, obviously, we have a young player in Brandon Wood that we're definitely going to look very closely at in Spring Training and hope that his growth will let him win a lot of playing time and possibly a [regular] position. "But as far as our lineup goes, if Izzy is in the lineup, I think he's a natural to lead off. If he's not, then Erick Aybar would definitely be a guy who could lead off. He'd get on base and set the table -- maybe not at the pace that Chone did, but eventually he'll roll into that." Only Bobby Abreu, at .390, approached Figgins' .395 on-base percentage among Angels hitters in 2009. Abreu also stole 30 bases, 12 fewer than Figgins but more than Aybar (14) and Izturis (13) combined. Abreu also drove in 103 runs while hitting 15 homers. That's why Scioscia wants him batting second or third. "I think Bobby is a guy that's multidimensional," Scioscia said. "There are some templates we look at where we have Bobby hitting second, some third. I think Bobby brings too much as far as the ability to drive in runs that we would want to take more advantage of, rather than to just lead him off." Wood, 25, has racked up impressive Minor League numbers with only periodic Major League appearances in three seasons. He doesn't care where he bats as long as he makes the lineup card. "I'm going to do everything I can to win a job," Wood said. "I know I have to earn it. Nothing is handed to you in this game." Scioscia plans to give him every opportunity to prove he belongs. "Any position player coming out has to, first of all, have the mentality he's going to go out there and win a position," Scioscia said. "And the reality of it is, it's always a proving ground. "He has to have the mindset to come in there a win a position. We do have some depth that we'll use if it's going to make us a better team, but we definitely want to give Brandon every opportunity to show his talent. Because he's a very, very talented young player."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.