04/05/10 9:35 PM ET
Scioscia confident Wood ready for shot
Angels third baseman finishes spring hitting .278
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"I don't think we're going to evaluate his spring statistically," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Absolutely there's growth with Woody from where he was two years ago to where he is now, from what his potential says he can do. I think he's ready for the opportunity. He's playing terrific defense."
Asked about Wood's plate discipline, Scioscia said: "I think he's made a lot of strides in that area. His walk/strikeout ratio has improved the last few years. This guy's got lightning hands. He can hit it out in any part of the ballpark."
Wood said he'd try to take deep breaths in his first Opening Day assignment and not try to go beyond himself.
"All these guys in this clubhouse have done it," he said. "I'll just relax and try to do whatever I can to help us win. If I don't get any hits, I'll try to take one or two away. The guys have always been great to me. They were excited whenever I got called up, and they haven't changed at all. A guy like Torii [Hunter], he's a true leader who makes you feel good whether you're going good or bad."
Mathis gets catching call for Angels
ANAHEIM -- The glove apparently is mightier than the bat, at least on Opening Day in the mind of Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
Taking Jeff Mathis' high-caliber defense over Mike Napoli's booming bat, Scioscia had Mathis catching Jered Weaver and hitting ninth, behind third baseman Brandon Wood, against the Twins' Scott Baker at Angel Stadium in Monday night's season opener.
Napoli, who had a team-high six homers and six doubles while batting .280 this spring, opens the season as a pinch-hitter, with third catcher Bobby Wilson providing Scioscia with backup flexibility that wasn't there last season.
"What we saw the last week of spring was Jeff catching very well at the defensive end," Scioscia said. "Mike has made a lot of improvement [defensively]. If a guy's playing well, he can take off and run with it. Mike's going to catch in this series sometime. Jeff is a great presence back there early in the season."
Mathis, who batted .538 in the postseason with five doubles among his eight hits in 15 at-bats, batted .220 this spring with .366 slugging and .292 on-base marks.
Matsui slotted in Halos' cleanup spot
ANAHEIM -- Hideki Matsui continued to hit in the cleanup spot, between Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales, as manager Mike Scioscia made out his Opening Day lineup card on Monday.
Morales, who launched a grand slam against the Dodgers in the spring finale at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, batted .381 this spring with three homers and a team-high 18 RBIs in 63 at-bats.
Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP for the champion Yankees, had a modest spring, batting .261 with one homer and nine RBIs in 19 games. Matsui handled himself capably in several tests in left field, and Scioscia said he isn't closing the door on the idea of using him in the field at times to create designated-hitter opportunities for others.
"Hideki's a good fit in the middle of the lineup," Scioscia said. "If Kendry grows into that force, we think he's obviously going to hit three/four in a championship-caliber lineup. We can adjust as we see a need. Hideki will work counts, take a walk. [Fifth] is going to be a good place for Kendry to hit in. Our offense at this point is going to be very fluid. It's something we'll pay attention to."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.