Gary Matthews Jr. is determined to play every day, preferably in center field. The Angels — overstocked with quality outfielders – do not appear to have a place for him to do so on a regular basis.
“There comes a time if a decision is made . . . ” manager Mike Scioscia said, not finishing the thought. “We’ve got a lot of bats here. We’ll address things in time. We’re not going to make a decision today.”
Recovered from late October surgery on his left knee, Matthews has been more than impressive in Cactus League play. He has been spectacular.
Matthews’ two-run homer against the Padres in Tuesday’s 10-5 Angels victory was a tremendous drive to right field that, he later reported, “came within six inches of hitting my Bentley” in the parking lot.
He crushed this one almost as far, he believed, as the one against the White Sox in the new Camelback Ranch-Glendale park that teammates estimated at 450 feet.
Matthews, who doubled in front of Maicer Izturis’ three-run homer in his first at-bat, is hitting .412 with 16 total bases in 17 at-bats.
“My play’s kind of doing all the talking for me,” Matthews said. “My play speaks louder than what I can say to anyone. I wasn’t supposed to be back until mid-May, late-May. I’m fine. I’m ready to go back to playing every day.”
With Torii Hunter entrenched in center field and Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera ahead of him on the outfield depth chart, Matthews has a hard time seeing consistent playing time coming his way no matter what he does.
He has gone to general manager Tony Reagins and Scioscia to express his desire to play regularly, and they have been candid with him, he said, about their point of view.
“You don’t play forever,” Matthews said. “I’m 34. Guys take such good care of themselves now. I’m 34. It’s not like I’m 24 and have time to sit around and waste years sitting around. That’s not what I’m going to do.”
That sounds very much like “play me or trade me,” a refrain as old as the game itself.