Matthews wants to play every day — somewhere

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.
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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.

1 Comment

I liek what Matthews brings to the table in his ability both in the outfield as well as what he can potential do at the plate. With the Angels being as stacked as they are right now in nearly every position, I just dont see Matthews getting the consistent playing time that he needs to in order to prove that he is capable of performing at a productive level and that he has overcome his injuries. I was never thrilled about the Angels getting Matthews in the first place, but I know that at the time there was an obvious need for a center fielder that could produce offensively. Unfortunately the Angels took a huge risk by signing Matthews to such a contract based mainly on the production of one good year and so far it has not been a good investment at all. Now that he is healthy and this spring he is fighting to prove that he is ready and capable of performing to the level that the Angels had hoped, unfortunately for him that ship had sailed when the Angels signed Tori, and now with Abreu it aint hapening in left field either.

I dont see much of a future for consistent playing time with the Angels for Gary and the amount of high caliber prospects coming through the farm system, the focus should be on getting these guys playing time. The quality in depth in the Angels Farm system is beyond what I can ever remember recall in more than my twenty years following them. The future of the Angels lies in their youth and that is where the investments need to be made. I like seeing the experienced players on the field such as Figgy, Vlad, Tori, and Abreu. The younger players directly benefit from their leadership and experience.
Matthews has the skills to make a great center fielder for someone, it just does not look like it will be the Angels. The Angels need to get him some playing time to show that he can still perform and then seek potential trades, although I think no matter what the Angels will eat a good chunk of change. The amount owed to Gary is probably more than any team would be willing to accept, but with him riding the pine for the Angels is not a good option either.

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