Wood waiting to warm up
At the start of Monday's four-game series with Tucson, Brandon Wood was not pleased by the batting average radiating from the Franklin Covey Field scoreboard. He wasn't overly concerned, either.
The Angels' top minor league prospect and Salt Lake third baseman was hitting a lean .105 - 2-for-19 with nine strikeouts.
Wood's average improved with a 2-for-4 performance during the Sidewinders' 10-2 PCL victory on a rain-soaked night in front of 3,848 fans. Tucson put the game away early with a nine-run fourth inning when 13 batters came to the plate.
Terry Evans' first homer of the season in the eighth accounted for the Bees' (3-2) first run. But Salt Lake hit into four double plays and left 11 runners on base.
"We had a lot of opportunities," Salt Lake manager Brian Harper said. "We couldn't cash in."
Wood's first Triple-A hit was a game-winning homer Friday against Las Vegas in the 12th inning. But he also spent time after Sunday's game in the hitting cage, as Wood put it, "clearing my head."
"It's only four games," Wood said. "I've got 136 more games to figure it out.
"I don't feel any added pressure from fans or the organization. I have high expectations for myself."
Those expectations come from a past history that has seen Wood hit 84 homers and 307 RBIs in 438 minor-league games.
Yet, the perception of a 2-for-19 start in the spring is a bit different from in mid-July. Wood's average improved 69 points with two hits Monday.
"What's tough when you start bad, you can't hide the numbers," Harper said. "Every hitter goes 2-for-20 [at some point]. But there's more pressure when you're looking up at .080.
"Brandon will hit, you just have to take it one at-bat at a time. The next thing you know, you're 5-for-8."
That's the difference. Should Wood go 5-for-8, he's suddenly hitting .259. It is much more difficult to affect a batting average later in the season when the at-bats pile up.
As for the nine strikeouts, "All young power hitters are going to strike out when they're not going good," said Harper, who agreed that Wood, on the heels of plenty of preseason hype, might be pressing.
"It's Triple-A," Wood said. "You're facing guys who know what they're doing, who've been around for a while. [But] I like the competition, it's the type of baseball I need to see."
* Tucson sends 13 runners to the plate in a nine-run fourth inning.
* Salt Lake leaves 11 runners on base and hits into four double plays.
* Terry Evans hits his first home run of the season for Salt Lake.
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