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Monday, February 14, 2011
Maicer Izturis will bat first

By Mark Saxon

One competition is over before it began.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Monday there is no debate about who will lead off. It will be Maicer Izturis, the veteran utility guy who figures to play the bulk of his games at third base.

Position players don't even begin working out until Saturday.

"We're really counting on what Izturis can bring when he's in the lineup," Scioscia said. "When he's in the lineup, he will be leading off and that will take some pressure off some of the things we didn't see last year."

One of the things Scioscia didn't see last year was the Angels getting on base a lot. They had a .311 on-base percentage. Only the Seattle Mariners' was worse in the American League. The Angels ranked 27th in the majors.

Izturis' career on-base percentage is .340. Erick Aybar, who started last season as the leadoff guy, has a career OBP of .318, well below average. Bobby Abreu is the Angels' most disciplined hitter, but Scioscia prefers to use him in the No. 2 hole.

The dilemma for Scioscia is managing to keep Izturis healthy. He has been on the disabled list nine times in since the start of the 2005 season, including three times last year.

"A couple of years ago, Maicer played over 100 games," Scioscia said. "It's definitely feasible for him to play in that range if not a little more. I don't know if he's a 162-game guy."