ANAHEIM -- Playing shortstop, his natural position, with a natural flair, Brandon Wood made a highlight-reel play on Monday night against Texas. Ranging far behind second base to snatch an apparent hit from Michael Young, Wood created an important force at second with a behind-the-back flip on the move to Howard Kendrick at second.
"That's the kind of play you don't make unless you're relaxed and havin' fun," lockermate and mentor Torii Hunter said to Wood. "That's how you play the game. You can't be worried about making mistakes."
Wood nodded and grinned.
"I feel a lot more relaxed out there now," he said. "I'm not worrying about things -- I'm just playing the game. It's fun again. It hasn't been easy this season, but it's good to get out there and just play free."
Wood will play in the Arizona Fall League in an effort to get a jump-start on a much better 2011. He had an RBI single and a walk in the 7-4 win over Texas behind Jered Weaver, his base hit marking his first RBI without a home run since June 19, covering 73 at-bats. He reached base twice in a game for the first time since June 27. Wood, who delivered a game-winning homer against the Rays on Friday night, carried a .159 batting average and .227 slugging mark into Tuesday night's game. He has assumed the shortstop role with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis sidelined. Aybar is out for the season, but Izturis could return, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"Brandon's numbers are going to be ugly," Scioscia said. "He's going to have a lot of things to hopefully look back on and use as a springboard to play better. That's what this playing time does. This will continue in the Fall League. He's doing it in an environment he's going to have to achieve in next year."