Looking like the ace he is, John Lackey’s spring debut in Tucson was flawless: six up, six down, including a strikeout of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Lackey’s command was sharp, and he appeared to have lively stuff for the first time out.
Lackey’s batterymate, Jeff Mathis, was having a pretty fair day too: homers in his first two at-bats against southpaw Franklin Morales before a walk third time up.
Angels catcher Jeff Mathis wasn’t kidding about coming to camp ready to hit after a winter spent working on his swing in his barn in Marianna, Fla.
Mathis unloaded homers in his first two-bats on Monday agianst Rockies southpaw Franklin Morales. The second blast, in the second inning, was a mammoth, no-doubter that would have left any yard in America. He had two doubles in his previous six Cactus League at-bats.
Keeping in step with Mathis, Brandon Wood hammered an RBI double and launched his first homer of the spring, way over the 410 sign in left center. Wood had two drives in the spring opener flagged down by outfielders crashing into walls.
“I feel good with my swing,” Mathis was saying the other day. “I spent a lot of time with my brother in my barn, where I have a batting cage next to my living quarters. Then I did some work with [hitting coach] Mickey [Hatcher]. I’m comfortable with where I am now.”
Mathis, a .195 career hitter in 512 at-bats, has been productive (15 homers, 71) in spite of his low average. He is behind the plate for the first time this spring, catching John Lackey.
Center fielder Reggie Willits was a late scratch for Monday’s Cactus League game against the Rockies in Tucson with tightness in the adductor muscle in his left leg. There was no immediate word on the severity.
Willits was on base in all three of his at-bats on Sunday with a single and two walks. He was replaced in center field by Terry Evans, with Adam Pavkovich inserted in right field.
Jeff Mathis got the Angels rolling with a solo homer against lefty Franklin Morales. A single by Kendry Morales and Brandon Wood’s RBI double handed John Lackey a 2-0 first-inning lead, and he shut down the rockies in the bottom half of the inning with solid command in his first outing of the spring.