Infielder Brandon Wood and catcher Jeff Mathis of Triple-A Salt Lake were penciled into Sunday's starting lineup to close out a three-game series with Texas at Angel Stadium.
Already boasting a flock of accolades, including Minor League Player of the Year honors by the Sporting News and a Topps California League Player of the Year award in 2005, Wood holds the Angels franchise and Class A California League single-season record for round-trippers (43), doubles (53), extra-base hits (101) and total bases (370). He smashed 58 home runs and sent 199 runners home in his last two Minor League seasons.
Wood, rated the top Angels prospect for 2006 and 2007 by Baseball America, will man the post at third in place of regular third baseman Chone Figgins, who will move to second, the spot usually reserved for Howie Kendrick. Kendrick was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after suffering a fractured left index finger.
Wood held a .262 batting average and led the Bees with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs through 80 games before making his third trek to Anaheim this season.
"He started to swing the bat much better the last two or three weeks down in Triple-A," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His confidence is high. He's getting to a point where he's probably closer to being ready for the challenge of the big leagues. When he went back down from his first stint up here, he really struggled finding his stroke, and I think that experience has helped him to hopefully take a couple steps forward."
Mathis, making his second start after spending July 4 fielding tosses behind the plate at Texas, will relieve Jose Molina of duty. Molina replaced regular catcher Mike Napoli after a home-plate collision left him with a sprained left ankle.
In 66 games at Salt Lake, he recorded a .244 average with five home runs and 26 RBIs. He scored 39 runs with 14 doubles and a pair of triples. In 28 games with the Halos last season, Mathis batted .155, going yard twice and sending six runs home.
"Jeff is night-and-day from when we saw him last year," Scioscia said. "Just his presence, his understanding of the game. He's more confident in everything he does. He's got the ability to be a terrific, dynamic offensive player. We haven't seen that progression [yet], and that's been a little frustrating, but he's working on some things. He'll find it."
Souvenir shortage: Baseball's best-hitting team in June (.319) and second-best in the Majors overall (.284), the Angels have been unable to launch a ball into the stands in their last eight games. The 76-inning home-run drought matches their longest long-ball absence, an eight-game span from Aug. 6-14, 1993.
Top spot belongs to Scot: Setup specialist Scot Shields has not allowed a run in his last 19 appearances. He pitched 24 2/3 innings over that span, surrendering only 13 hits and retiring 22 batters by way of strikeout. He boasts a 0.73 ERA over the 37 innings pitched in his last 30 games. His 20 holds are tops in the American League.
Minor League monsters: Designated hitter Adam Morrissey cracked three hits, including a pair of jacks, and drove in three runs to anchor the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in an 8-3 win over the Tulsa Drillers on Saturday.
First baseman Ciff Remole paced the Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with two hits, including a two-run blast, in a 9-6 loss to the Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday.
Up next: Bartolo Colon (6-4, 6.44 ERA) looks to pick up his first win since June 14 when he kicks off a three-game series at Tampa Bay against right-hander James Shields (7-5, 3.98 ERA) on Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. PT.
Larry Santana is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less