It’s fitting, perhaps, that Brandon Wood’s two-run homer Saturday afternoon came after he missed an earlier opportunity to provide the Royals with a walk-off victory over the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
That sort of sums up his aspirations in camp.
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Wood’s homer in the 4-2 victory came two pitches after he pulled a similar Jake Brigham curve deep to left but foul. After fouling off a fastball, Brigham tried another curve — and Wood didn’t miss it.
“I came around on that first one a little bit,” he said, “so I wanted to stay through the next one.”
Wood, 27, is a one-time phenom trying to resurrect his career after signing with the Royals as a minor-league free agent. He was the Angels’ first-round pick in 2003 and ranked by Baseball America as the game’s No. 3 prospect entering the 2006 season.
That bright promise has never flowered in parts of six big-league seasons. Wood has a .186 average in 272 career games with 18 homers and a .225 on-base percentage. The Royals signed him in November.
“I have a uniform on,” he said. “If the good Lord gives me a chance to play the game, it’s a matter of just going out and trusting my ability. It’s not any different from the first camp I went to when I was 20.
“Obviously, the goal is the same – as it should be for anybody — and that’s to make the team.”
Wood’s homer allowed the Royals to gain a victory after settling for a 5-5 tie Friday in their Cactus League opener. They were one out away from a victory when Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run homer against Blaine Boyer.
Salvy Perez started the winning rally Saturday by drawing a four-pitch walk with one out from Brigham. Pinch-runner Anthony Seratelli moved to second on a balk before Wood launched a 2-1 curve to deep left.
The ball curved foul, but Wood got another chance.
Lefty Francisley Bueno created an anxious moment when he used his pitching hand to knock down Jeff Baker’s sharp two-out hopper in the fourth. The result was a bruise on Bueno’s wrist, although it isn’t believed serious.
“We’ll check him tomorrow,” manager Ned Yost said Saturday, “but we don’t anticipate it being anything.”
Bueno gave up both Texas runs after starting the third inning by yielding a single to Aaron Cunningham and a double to Ian Kinsler. Both runs scored on subsequent groundouts.
Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso opened his bid for a job — most likely as a swingman — by working two scoreless innings. He stranded one runner in each of the first two innings. The Royals acquired Moscoso in a Nov. 2 waiver claim from Colorado.
Lefty Donnie Joseph, a long shot to break with the club, struck out the side in the seventh on 15 pitches. He came from Cincinnati in last July’s trade for Jonathan Broxton.
Chris Getz failed to score a runner from third with no outs in the fifth when he grounded to short with the infield in.
Billy Butler struck out looking in each of his two at-bats. Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas each went one for two for the second straight game.
Both teams were zero for six with runners in scoring position before Brandon Wood’s walk-off homer, which came with pinch-runner Anthony Seratelli on second base.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain tested his sore right hand by taking 50 swings in the batting cage prior to the official pre-game workout. He said it “felt great.” Barring day-after problems, he should progress to soft-toss sessions and regular batting practice.
If all goes as expected, Cain should be playing in games within a few days.
It was 26 years ago Saturday — Feb. 23, 1987 — that Royals manager Dick Howser called the team together in Fort Myers, Fla., to announce his resignation.
Howser was diagnosed the previous year with brain cancer and underwent treatment throughout the second half of the 1986. His comeback attempt lasted four days before he found himself unable to continue.
Billy Gardner replaced Howser as the club’s manager. Howser died later that year on June 17 and was inducted July 3 into the club’s Hall of Fame.
Right-hander Luis Mendoza might throw as many as 70 pitches Sunday when the Royals conclude their three-game campus weekend series against the Rangers. Mendoza is already stretched out after pitching earlier this month in the Caribbean World Series.
Relievers Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera are also scheduled to make their spring debuts. Both are scheduled to depart camp next Saturday, as is Mendoza, to take part in the World Baseball Classic.
Plans also call for lefty John Lamb to pitch. Lamb was often viewed as the organization’s top pitching prospect prior to undergoing surgery in June 2011 to repair a torn elbow ligament.
Royals (RHP Luis Mendoza) vs. Rangers (LHP Matt Harrison), at 2:05 p.m. Central time in Surprise, Ariz.
“Get out! Get out! You’re wasting my time. Give it to the guys who need it. You don’t need it, Salvy.”
— George Brett while throwing batting practice after serving up a series of line drives to Salvy Perez.
Countdown To Opening Day: 36 Days