Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Torii Hunter moves on up (the lineup)
By Mark Saxon
How desperate are the Angels to shake some runs out of their sleepy offense?
Desperate enough that manager Mike Scioscia moved his cleanup hitter, Torii Hunter, into a spot in the lineup where he hasn't hit since 1999: the two-hole. Hunter couldn't ever remember hitting there, in fact. He started just 16 games batting second for the Minnesota Twins 12 years ago, when he was 23.
Hunter, who averages 23 home runs per year, has played 85 percent of his games in the Nos. 3 through 6 spots in the lineup.
Wednesday night's lineup was as much about experimentation as finding Hunter's ideal spot, though he's hoping to see a few more fastballs if Angels leadoff hitters can reach base in front of him. The Angels have averaged two runs per game in their last five games and haven't scored more than three in a game since May 30.
"This is just about four games where we've (stunk) and trying to shake things up. If I was the manager, I'd probably do that, too," Hunter said. "But I am who I am. I'm Torii. Pitcher's know what I do and I'm not going to change how I swing, powerfully."
* The Angels drafted Scioscia's son, Matt, in the 45th round Wednesday. Scioscia said Matt, who played first base, designated hitter and catcher at Notre Dame, likely will sign Thursday. Scioscia batted .200 in 16 games for the Fighting Irish.
"He can really swing the bat," Mike Scioscia said. "He's excited just for the fact to get out there and play professional baseball."
Here are the lineups for Wednesday, with dueling aces on the mound, Jered Weaver opposing James Shields: