03/19/11 8:50 PM ET
Bourjos making a habit of highlight-reel plays
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
As the ball rocketed off Burrell's bat toward right-center, two runs and extra bases seemed like certainties. But Bourjos, with a lightning-quick break, was flying as only he and an elite few baseball players can. Bourjos reached the ball in full flight in deepest right-center, drawing gasps from the crowd -- and startled looks in the scouts' section behind home plate.
"Willie Mays ... Paul Blair ... Garry Maddox, maybe Curt Flood," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, when asked in the afterglow how many center fielders could have made that play. It is not Scioscia's style to overstate such things.
According to Bourjos, who made a habit of such jaw-dropping plays for the Angels last August and September, there was one person in the ballpark who thought he'd make the play: his father Chris, a scout for the Orioles.
"I honestly didn't think I could get there off the bat," Bourjos said. "My dad said, 'When it was hit, I thought you were gonna get to it. I've seen you make that play going back to high school [at Scottsdale Notre Dame, not far from the Giants' spring park].'
"He was scouting, and my mom was with him. It was pretty cool for them, seeing how the other scouts reacted. It was probably a better feeling for him than me, really."
Chris Bourjos was a Giants outfielder with a strong arm, whose Major League experience was limited to 13 games and five hits -- one a homer -- in 1980.
"All the scouts joke with him, asking him, 'Where'd Pete get his speed -- from his mom?'" Bourjos said through a handsome smile. "I used to race against my mom when I was a kid, and she was fast. My dad broke his leg playing basketball and had 11 screws in his knee, so I couldn't race him after I was little."
Bourjos will open the season in center for the Angels. He hopes to carry the improved plate discipline and consistent contact from a superb spring into the season opener on March 31 at Kansas City. He came into Saturday's game against the Indians batting .344 with a .463 on-base percentage, and has been successful on all four of his stolen-base attempts.
Kazmir content with results of his latest outing
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Scott Kazmir feels he's on the right track, no matter how strenuously the box score might argue otherwise.
"My first start and [this one] have felt the best," Kazmir said, having gone 4 1/3 innings and yielded four runs on three hits and four walks in a 10-7 loss to the Indians on Saturday. "My fastball felt good, for the most part. It had late life. My changeup had so much movement, I couldn't get it in for a strike."
Kazmir had three strikeouts, and one of the three hits he allowed -- an RBI single by Adam Everett -- wasn't struck hard, but found an open area.
Manager Mike Scioscia saw "some strides with his command," but noted a lack of efficiency in Kazmir's effort.
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"The ball came out hotter," he said, "but 95 pitches in 4 1/3 innings is a lot of work. Hopefully, as he gets his mechanics, he'll be more pitch efficient.
"Early on, there were too many 3-2 counts. What you want to do is get in the [strike] zone earlier, and expand it."
Kazmir had felt out of sync with his delivery in his previous outing. But this time, he was in a nice groove from the perfect first inning on -- even though a few very close ball fours cost him along the way.
"My leg kick was way more natural than in my last start," he said. "I wasn't trying to manipulate my body. Instead of trying to create something early, I was just nice and easy, keeping myself in a good throwing position. I had some good, late life on my fastball, which is more important to me than gun readings."
Kazmir's fastball was in the high 80s, topping out at 90 mph.
"I'm not concerned about that now," he said. "I'm working on my arm slot. Seeing how guys swing and miss tells me I have the late life I need."
Halos' Wood shines with glove, too
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With two homers, a triple and a double in nine at-bats, Brandon Wood's bat has come alive as Spring Training winds down. He also has shown why manager Mike Scioscia has labeled him a "potential Gold Glove-caliber third baseman."
In the ninth inning of a one-run victory on Friday, with Anthony Ortega on the mound and a swift Padres runner breaking with the pitch from first, Wood fielded a sharply hit ground ball, wheeled and fired a strike to second baseman Gil Velazquez, who pivoted and completed a double play. Scioscia was duly impressed.
"That's a head's up play," Scioscia said, complimenting Wood for his awareness of the speed of the two runners and his strong, accurate arm.
"Four times the guy on first ran and had to come back to the bag on foul balls," Wood said. "I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he got a late break, so I thought I could get it there in time. Even if I didn't, we still could have gotten the out at first, so it wasn't high-risk."
It's the kind of alert thinking and execution that separate a quality defender from a mediocre one.
As for Wood's offensive surge, bringing his slugging percentage to .533, Scioscia said: "I think his last 15 at-bats, he's much more comfortable in the box. He's seeing the ball well."
Wood, using a new approach focusing on his lower half, said he's had "about 10 at-bats" this spring where he lapsed into old habits, but "otherwise I've felt good up there, confident."
He is using the whole field. His four extra-base hits in those past nine at-bats have traveled from the left-field line to the right-center gap -- telling Wood he is staying back and remaining aggressive, without overextending his body. He's also swinging earlier in counts if he gets his pitch, rather than trying to be selective and getting down 0-2, 1-2.
First baseman Mark Trumbo's tight groin healed enough to allow him to take fielding practice on Saturday, but he will be held out for another day or two, manager Mike Scioscia said, for precautionary reasons. Bobby Wilson got the start at first base on Saturday against the Indians, with Howard Kendrick, who played the position on Friday, back at second. ... No noteworthy progress on Kendrys Morales, who ran on the lower fields, and was doing fielding drills and taking batting practice. He still hasn't cleared the hurdle of making cuts and turns on the basepaths, meaning it is highly doubtful he'll get enough spring at-bats to be ready to open the season on March 31 at Kansas City. ... Trevor Bell and Bobby Cassevah, a pair of hard-throwing right-handers set back this spring by shoulder tendonitis, are starting to make progress. Bell, who threw three innings in a camp game on Friday, is expected to open the season getting stretched out as a starter at Triple-A Salt Lake, along with Matt Palmer. Cassevah figures to be in the Bees' bullpen. ... Reassigned to Minor League camp were catcher Kevin Richardson, infielders Kevin Melillo and Gil Velazquez, and pitcher Anthony Ortega. Once a highly regarded starter who is reviving his career as a reliever after injury detours, Ortega hasn't given up an earned run in 6 1/3 Cactus League innings, yielding three hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.