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Monday, May 9, 2011
The new, improved Erick Aybar

By Mark Saxon

A sub-par, injury-riddled 2010 might have been the perfect motivation for Erick Aybar.

The Angels are seeing the fruits of their shortstop's renewed focus. Both his offense -- a .356 batting average that would lead the American League if Aybar had the qualifying plate appearances -- and defense are leaps and bounds ahead of last season.

"He didn't have the same edge last year, both in the batter's box and defensively," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Aybar dealt with knee and groin injuries last season that forced him to skip winter ball back home in the Dominican Republic for the first time in his career. Instead of playing for a month or more, Aybar spent his time working out with two of his baseball mentors, Miguel Tejada and Cristian Guzman, both of whom live in Aybar's hometown of Bani.

"They just helped me to forget about last year," Aybar said.

Aybar, batting .406 in his last seven games, was back in the leadoff spot for the 11th time this season. Last season, he struggled after learning he would lead off after spending most of his career batting ninth. Aybar had 21 errors last season. He has one so far in 2011.

Here are the lineups for Monday night's game against the Chicago White Sox:

Chicago

1. Juan Pierre LF

2. Alexei Ramirez SS

3. Adam Dunn DH

4. Paul Konerko 1B

5. Carlos Quentin RF

6. A.J. Pierzynski C

7. Alex Rios CF

8. Gordon Beckham 2B

9. Brent Morel 3B

Angels

1. Aybar

2. Bobby Abreu DH

3. Torii Hunter RF

4. Alberto Callaspo 3B

5. Vernon Wells LF

6. Hank Conger C

7. Mark Trumbo 1B

8. Alexi Amarista 2B

9. Peter Bourjos CF