02/23/2013 7:27 PM ET
Wood's roster bid gets off to strong start
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brandon Wood once hit 43 home runs in a Minor League season and was considered a hot prospect in the Angels organization. That promise was never quite fulfilled.
Wood, though, is still pursuing the dream 10 years after the Angels made him a first-round Draft choice out of Horizon High School in nearby Scottsdale.
He showed his power on Saturday, belting a two-run homer that gave the Royals a 4-2 walk-off victory over the Rangers in the second Cactus League game at Surprise Stadium. With a runner at first base, Wood teased the crowd with a long drive that landed just foul down the left-field line. Then, on a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Jake Brigham, he put a drive into the left-field bullpen.
Wood had gone hitless in three previous at-bats in the first two games. He struck out in his first chance on Saturday.
"The swing feels good. Batting practice feels good. It's just a matter of getting timing in the game," he said.
When Wood rounded first base, he noticed the ball on the outfield grass -- causing a moment of uncertainty -- but it had ricocheted off the back bullpen wall and found its way back to the playing field.
"I thought I hit it good, but I saw it on the field so I didn't want to be the guy to be jogging around the bases when it was a double. So I took a stutter-step, but it was a homer," Wood said.
Either way, the game was over because Anthony Seratelli already had scored from second base.
Wood's 43 home runs came as a shortstop with Class A Rancho Cucamonga in 2005, the same season he had 51 doubles, 115 RBIs and a .321 average. He kept piling up homers, doubles and RBIs through Double-A and Triple-A but never could catch fire in the Majors.
In parts of five seasons with Los Angeles, he hit .168 with 11 homers, 33 RBIs in 173 games. Finally, Pittsburgh claimed him off waivers in 2011, but he had little success in 99 games with the Pirates. He was in Triple-A with Colorado last year and signed with the Royals in November.
"He's come in here, he's worked hard and we'll see where he fits," manager Ned Yost said. "We brought him in for depth, because he's versatile, we think that he can play third and first and the outfield if needed. And we think he can swing the bat a little bit and today was proof of that. It was a great at-bat to win the ballgame for us.
"He was a highly rated prospect at one time, a kid that had like 47, 48 homers one year, and that type of production never really transitioned to the big leagues. But we still feel like there's something there and we wanted to give him the opportunity to come in and compete."
Wood, who'll turn 28 next Saturday, is a right-handed batter who stands 6-foot-3 at 205 pounds.
"I have a uniform on, and that's it," he said. "The good Lord gives me a chance to play the game, and it's a matter of just going out and trusting my abilities. It's no different from the first camp I went to when I was 20 and, obviously, if the goal's the same as it is for anybody -- to make the team."
In his memorable year with Rancho Cucamonga, plus four games with Triple-A Salt Lake, Wood became the first Minor Leaguer in history with 100 extra-base hits in a season. He had 101.
"The ability's still there but it just hasn't come together for me yet. But I believe in my heart that I can still play and produce in the big leagues," he said. "I'm with a great organization and the talent's there. It's just a matter of me putting it together and allowing it to happen."
Bueno OK after taking liner off wrist
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno sustained a bruised left wrist when he was struck by a batted ball in the fourth inning of Saturday's 4-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
A sharp grounder by the Rangers' Jeff Baker deflected off Bueno, but he recovered and threw for the third out. That ended his two-inning outing in which he gave up two runs and two hits. The injury is not believed to be serious.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who's been out with a strained right hand, took about 50 swings in the batting cage on Saturday with no problems. He's expected back in action shortly.
Winter ball star Mendoza ready for spring debut
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza, coming off his Most Valuable Player prominence in the Caribbean Series, will make his first spring start for the Royals on Sunday against the Rangers.
He's well prepared, making eight starts this winter, including his starring turn for the Obregon Yaquis, who claimed the Carib Series title for Mexico. He made 107 pitches and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start.
"When I came here, they decided to push me back a little bit," Mendoza said.
Mendoza didn't want to overdo it in winter ball, resting for three months before joining Obregon in the stretch drive for a third consecutive Mexican Pacific League championship.
"That's why I just decided to play in January. I wanted to be ready for the World Baseball Classic," he said.
Mendoza will report to Mexico's team next Saturday in nearby Glendale, joining such starters as the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo, the Red Sox's Alfredo Aceves, the Mariners' Oliver Perez and the D-backs' David Hernandez.
Mirroring his status with the Royals, Mendoza isn't certain if Team Mexico will use him as a starter or as a reliever.
After a couple of exhibition games, Mexico will play Italy on March 7, the USA on March 8 and Canada on March 9.
"We're in a tough group. The USA is going to be a tough team to beat," Mendoza said.
Because of Mendoza's winter work, Royals manager Ned Yost plans to use him for an extended outing against the Rangers.
"We'll probably go 50, 60, upwards of 70 pitches," Yost said. "We'll see how he's going, making sure he's not getting in any spots where he's starting to labor out there. But just keeping him maintained."
Saberhagen's Cy Young, Series ring up for auction
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals Hall of Famer Bret Saberhagen is among several athletes offering personal awards and memorabilia for sale in an upcoming auction, according to an announcement by SCP Auctions in California.
The Saberhagen items will include:
• 1985 American League Cy Young Award
• 1985 Royals World Series championship ring
• 1985 World Series MVP Trophy
• 1989 Cy Young Award
• 1989 Signed American League Gold Glove Award
• August 1991 no-hitter game-worn Royals home jersey
• 1985 and 1989 Sporting News American League Pitcher of the Year Awards
• 1989 signed Royals game-worn home jersey (Cy Young year)
"As much fun as it was playing the game I love, it's great to know that my memorabilia will go to someone who loves it as much as I did earning it," Saberhagen said in statement. "It's also great that a portion of the proceeds will go to make a difference in the lives of youth through the The Bret Saberhagen Make a Difference Foundation."
Other auction items are from baseball's Steve Garvey and Rollie Fingers and basketball's John Havlicek.
Bidding will be open online to registered bidders from April 10 through April 27. More information is available via www.scpauctions.com or 949-831-3700.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.