04/26/07 8:30 PM ET
Notes: Wood makes big-league debut
Highly touted third baseman gets the start in first day up
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
"I played against Mike Schmidt when he was a superstar," said Scioscia. "When he first came up, I think there are a lot of parallels between what I heard being talked about Mike Schmidt as a young player and what Brandon Wood is going through.
"Mike Schmidt became a guy who developed a great eye at the plate. His walks went up and his strikeouts declined, and he wound up hitting over 500 home runs and wound up in the Hall of Fame.
"I'm not making a comparison to put Brandon in that elite group of being a Hall of Famer, but what I'm trying to say is that there are many indications of guys who have had great potential, but their strikeouts in the Minor Leagues have curtailed their careers. But Brandon is doing well to cut down on his strikeouts and increase his walks and develop a good eye. And hopefully this experience here will help further."
Asked about being compared to Schmidt, Wood said: "It's an honor to be in the same sentence as Mike Schmidt. If I could do half of what he did, I'd be OK."
Wood was rated as the Angels' top prospect by Baseball America in 2006 and '07 after being drafted 23rd overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. In his last two Minor League seasons, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Wood, connected for 58 home runs and 199 RBIs. He set an Angels franchise and California League single-season record with 43 home runs in 2005. His 53 doubles, 370 total bases and 101 extra-base hits are also Angels' single-season Minor League records. He has had over 100 strikeouts in each of his three seasons.
Wood, who was hitting .278 with three home runs in 15 games this season, was enjoying an off-day in Salt Lake City on Wednesday when Triple-A Salt Lake Bees manager Brian Harper called him and asked, "Are you doing anything tomorrow?" When Wood replied, "Nothing," Harper asked, "How would you like to get on a plane and go up to Anaheim?"
"Obviously it's like a dream come true, playing in the big leagues," said Wood. "That's what I was dreaming about playing as a young kid. So far, it's been a good experience."
That's what Wood said before the game, and an 0-for-4, two-strikeout game didn't diminish his excitement or enthusiasm.
"It was definitely an experience I won't ever forget," said Wood after the Angels' 11-3 victory. "It took me a few minutes for me to get control of my body parts. I was pretty fired up. It was a great experience to get a win like that. I would have like to have mixed in a hit, but that's not the way it worked out. But I still enjoyed it.
"I saw the ball well but just didn't put the bat on the ball where I needed to."
It appeared for a moment that Wood might have had his first hit when he hit a shot up the middle in the third inning, but the ball bounced off pitcher Gary Glover over to first baseman Carlos Pena for an out.
Wood's time in the Majors could be a short one, with Chone Figgins beginning his rehab assignment with Salt Lake on Thursday. But like Scioscia said, you never know.
Wood was wearing No. 3 on Thursday, the number worn by manager Gene Mauch.
Speaking of numbers: Brenton Del Chiaro, who has taken over as the Angels' bullpen catcher, is wearing No. 70.
That number was last worn by Joe Maddon, who spent 31 years in the Angels organization and is currently the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Maddon is still sporting that number.
The story goes that Maddon was wearing No. 20 when he was coaching in the Minors when Don Sutton was coming up through the organization. And Sutton wanted No. 20, so Maddon just happened to find a uniform with No. 70 on it and has worn that number ever since.
Tom Gregorio, the former bullpen catcher, has returned to his duties as roving catcher instructor for the Minor Leagues.
On deck: The Angels, who went 1-7 on their first road trip, head out to Chicago on Friday to face the White Sox at 5:11 p.m. PT in the first game of a three-game series. Right-hander Ervin Santana (2-2, 5.64 ERA) will be on the mound for the Halos against right-hander Jose Contreras (1-2, 6.16).
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.