Wood's HR in 9th gives Royals 4-2 win over Rangers

AP - Sports

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Brandon Wood believes he can still fulfill his potential, and the Kansas City Royals are willing to give him that chance.

Wood hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Kansas City a 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

When he was 20, Wood set California League records with 43 home runs and 101 extra-base hits in 2005. That eye-popping performance made him the Angels' top prospect, and his major league debut came in 2007.

But strikeouts became a big problem for Wood and he's never been able to hold down a big league job, batting .186 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs in 700 career at-bats.

''He can swing the bat a little bit and today was proof of that,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''He put together a great at-bat to win the game for us. He was a highly rated prospect at one time. He had 40-something homers one year. It never really transitioned to the big leagues, that type of production. We still feel like there is something there and wanted to give him an opportunity to come in and compete.''

Wood, who is trying to earn a utility spot, sent a one-out drive to the back of the left-field bullpen off Jake Brigham, the seventh Rangers pitcher.

''The ability is still there,'' said Wood, who turns 28 in March. ''It hasn't come together for me. I believe in my heart that I can still play in the big leagues and produce in the big leagues. The talent is there. It's just a matter of me putting it together and allowing it to happen.

''The swing feels good. Batting practice feels good. It's just a matter of getting the timing in the game. I made an adjustment from the first at-bat and went 80 percent instead of 120.''

Randy Wells, a mainstay in the Chicago Cubs' rotation for three years, is trying to earn a starting job with the Rangers after having arthroscopic elbow surgery last year. Wells allowed one run and three hits while striking out one in two innings.

''I think anytime you're not healthy, I think you're trying to force things,'' Wells said. ''I got in a bad mechanical way. You're trying to do things to get the ball to the plate to try to make your arm hurt as least as possible.

''I'm not the smartest man in the world, but I'm pretty sure that has some effect on how your ball flattens out.''

The only run Wells allowed came when George Kottaras rolled into a double play.

''Those years you're talking, if I needed a groundball, here's the sinker,'' Wells said. ''The last couple it's been, I hope the ball sinks. It's good to be back and have that arm moving free and easy and getting on top of the ball. I made some good pitches today, got some groundballs, threw some good changeups, couple of good sliders.''

Ian Kinsler doubled in one Rangers run and scored the other.

The Royals' fifth inning run was unearned after two Texas errors. Kottaras led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on catcher Jose Felix's throwing error. Kottaras scored when third baseman Mike Olt mishandled Jarrod Dyson's grounder.

NOTES: Rangers DH Lance Berkman, who has been held back with a strained right calf, ran the bases and could be cleared for games soon. ... Royals CF Lorenzo Cain, who has a sore right hand, took 50 swings in the batting cage and could play next week. ... Royals rookie LHP Donnie Joseph struck out all three batters he faced.

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