Notes: Figgins could be a slugger
Two home runs earlier this week could be just the start
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chone Figgins may not be a power hitter, but he may try to make a run at becoming the new Toy Cannon.
The 5-foot-9 Jimmy Wynn earned the nickname by hitting 291 homers in a 15-year career in the 1960s and '70s, mostly with the Astros. Figgins, who measures 5-foot-7, is unlikely to match those totals, but the two home runs he hit over three games early this week are no fluke.
"He's got power; that's why he gets triples. It's not just his speed," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "He has a short, strong swing both right-handed and left-handed. He has good hands and if you make a mistake he will drive it."
Figgins remains the catalyst atop the Angels order and the club will not be asking him to swing for the fences, but homers did work for Rickey Henderson, who hit 297 in his 25-year career, including 81 leadoff homers.
Still, Hatcher said Figgins has the ability to be more than a speedy slap hitter.
"I remind him in drills to not be so mechanical during drills and to try and drive the ball and hit it with power," Hatcher said. "He will still take the pitch the other way because that has to be part of his game but he has the power to get the ball past the outfielders."
Figgins hit eight last season and Tuesday night he drilled his second of this year, describing it as the "hardest ball I ever hit." It glanced off the facing on the upper deck of the Metrodome.
"Sometimes I square up the ball and it goes," Figgins said.
Getting time: Jeff Mathis started his third straight game behind the plate Wednesday and his seventh of the season.
Neither he nor Jose Molina, who has started eight games, has been swinging the bat particularly well. Molina is hitting .125 while Mathis entered Wednesday's game against the Twins hitting .174 and struck out in his first at-bat.
The Angels have said since Spring Training they will need both catchers this season and are trying to give both men playing time. Defense will remain the overriding factor as to who gets the call with offense playing a lesser role.
"Jeff has had some rough edges but has gotten his feet on the ground. There is not enough of a sample, though, to judge," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Whatever happens we will need that defensive presence behind the plate."
Mathis has grown more comfortable at the Major League level and while catching both Kelvim Escobar on Tuesday and Ervin Santana on Wednesday he was able to keep the play in front of him.
"A lot of times the pitch you need to get a guy out is either out of the zone or in the dirt and you need to block the ball or tag the guy out," Scioscia said. "Our guys work on that and our pitchers need to have confidence to throw that pitch."
Trainer's room: Juan Rivera sat out his third straight game Wednesday with a strained left rib cage. Scioscia said the outfielder/DH will likely be out of the lineup Thursday but should be able to play Friday in Oakland.
Tim Salmon, who has a strain of the right hip flexor, has been cleared to pinch-hit.
Fundamentals: Scioscia will hold a children's baseball clinic on April 29 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The Amateur Baseball Development Group and Sunkist will host the free clinic at Conejo Creek South Ballpark from 10:30 a.m. until Noon PT.
Also scheduled to attend are Santana and Mathis, Angels radio broadcasters Rory Markas and Jose Mota, and Hatcher.
Decisions: The order for the 2006 First-Year Player Draft has been determined with the Kansas City Royals holding the top spot. The draft will be held via conference call on June 6-7 in New York City and carried live by MLB.com.
The Angels will have the 25th pick as compensation for the Indians signing right-handed pitcher Paul Byrd. They will lose their own slot, 26th, for signing Jeff Weaver. The Angels will not have another selection until the third round of the draft.
On the farm: Howie Kendrick had his 11-game hitting streak snapped by going 0-for-4 in Triple-A Salt Lake's 4-2 win over Tucson on Tuesday. ... Right-hander Dustin Moseley improved his record to 3-0 by allowing two runs, one earned, over six innings. ... Double-A Arkansas right-hander Steven Shell allowed three runs on nine hits over 7 2/3 innings to take the loss against Tulsa on Tuesday. ... Class A Cedar Rapids right-hander Nick Adenhart (2-0) tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Kernels' 4-1 win over West Michigan.
On deck: The Angels will conclude their three-game series against the Twins on Thursday at 10:10 a.m. PT with right-hander Hector Carrasco starting for Bartolo Colon, who was placed on the DL on Wednesday. Right-hander Scott Baker will start for the Twins. John Lackey is scheduled to start Friday against the A's.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.