ANAHEIM -- When Brandon Wood was with the Angels early in the season, the 23-year-old infielder admitted he was pressing at the plate. It clearly showed, as he batted just .125 with one home run and two RBIs in 29 games before he was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on June 12. But before Wood was sent back down to the Minors, Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher told him to try changing his hand positions while with Salt Lake. Wood listened to Hatcher's advice, and after early struggles, it paid off.
Wood, who lowered his hands about six inches, struggled at first with the change, as he hit just .240 in June with the Bees. But Wood said the All-Star break in mid-July was the turning point in helping him figure out his refined swing. "At the All-Star break, I just had three days off to think about my swing instead of going in there and trying to do one of 12 things I'm trying to work on," Wood said. "I just tried to simplify what everyone was telling me to work on and I had a couple of hits in the first game and got rolling from there." Wood batted .361 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs in 42 games after the All-Star break to help lead Salt Lake to the Pacific Coast League title. Angels manager Mike Scioscia took note of Wood's progress, and the Angels recalled him on Thursday when Howie Kendrick was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Wood was in the starting lineup for the first time since June 10. "I think when he left here, the swing that he was working on with Mickey got his hands in a better slot to be shorter to the ball and allowed him to track the ball a little longer," Scioscia said. "It's something he's been comfortable with. You saw his walks go up, his strikeouts diminish and had every bit of power in his swing." That's why Wood is more confident as he embarks on his sixth stint with the Angels this season. He'll also get the chance to play his natural position of shortstop while Erick Aybar rests a strained hamstring for the next few games. "I feel good," Wood said. "Swing-wise, I feel good, and I'm comfortable at short."
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.