Los Angeles Angels: Steve Garvey

Torii Hunter back in the lineup

July, 4, 2011
7/04/11
5:49
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- When a first-inning fastball from Hiroki Kuroda hit Angel outfielder Torii Hunter on the top of the left hand in Friday's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hunter immediately feared he'd broken a bone in his hand and would be out of commission until September.

Lucky for him, he only needed to miss two starts. He's back in the lineup Monday for the opener against the Detroit Tigers, hitting second and playing right field.

"I thought it was broken," Hunter, 35, said Monday as he prepared to take batting practice for the second time since the injury. "I thought I was gonna be gone six to eight weeks."

He underwent precautionary X-rays during the game Friday, which he exited after two innings. Those came up negative, as did the CT scan he took later that night. He rested Saturday, only his fourth missed game this season, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he'd be available as a defensive replacement in the later innings.

By Sunday, Scioscia said Hunter could come off the bench in any capacity, and he did sub in for Bobby Abreu in the eighth and play two innings in right field. His first-inning at-bat against Charlie Furbush Monday will be his first in-game swings since Friday night, though.

"I'm about 80 percent, but I just play, no matter what," Hunter said. "It's sore, my ribs are sore, but I gotta play.

"Hopefully it feels good."

The rib soreness dates back to his crash into the outfield well at Sun Life Stadium last month, which forced him to miss a three-game set with the Dodgers in L.A.

In discussing Hunter's more recent injury over the weekend, Scioscia brought up his thoughts on moving him around in the lineup, somewhere down from the second spot he's occupied recently. He's spent most of this season hitting cleanup but also has picked up 58 at-bats batting third and 37 hitting second.

He's hitting just .137 in the second spot and .244 cleanup but an impressive .293 in the third slot. But Scioscia decided to keep him second, based on his belief that the combination of Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells is a trio he wants to stick together in the lineup -- in that order, too, for right now at least.

"It's great to get Torii back in the lineup," Scioscia said Monday. "We're looking at some things on the offensive end, but I think with [Maicer Izturis] out of the lineup, hitting second is not a bad matchup for him to be in.

"We'll continue to evaluate things if we have to adjust down the road, but right now, it's something we want to give a little bit of a look to."

* Former Angel outfielder Tim Salmon participated in a fan-friendly home run derby with Jose Canseco after Sunday's game against the Dodgers, with the contest preceding a charity softball game benefiting ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease) sufferers.

Canseco hit eight homers to Salmon's four, winning the competition. Canseco's Dodgers also topped Salmon's Angels in the three-inning game, which a number of fans stayed around for at Angel Stadium.

Here are the lineups for tonight's 6:05 p.m. game, with the Angels' Joel Pineiro opposing Furbush on the mound:

Tigers

1. Austin Jackson CF

2. Brennan Boesch LF

3. Magglio Ordonez RF

4. Miguel Cabrera 1B

5. Victor Martinez DH

6. Jhonny Peralta SS

7. Alex Avila C

8. Ryan Raburn 2B

9. Brandon Inge 3B

Angels

1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Torii Hunter RF

3. Bobby Abreu DH

4. Vernon Wells LF

5. Howie Kendrick 2B

6. Mark Trumbo 1B

7. Alberto Callaspo 3B

8. Peter Bourjos CF

9. Jeff Mathis C

Kendrick takes All-Star selection in stride

July, 3, 2011
7/03/11
4:20
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- It seems a little fitting.

On the day Angels' second baseman Howie Kendrick was named to his first career All-Star Game, he was in manager Mike Scioscia's lineup at first base in Sunday's series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers to give rookie Mark Trumbo the day off and allow journeyman Russell Branyan to get a start at designated hitter.

Kendrick is the Angels' usual starter at second, but he's done quite a bit of shuffling around this season to accommodate various lineups. More a than a third of his at-bats in 2011 have come when playing first or left field, a new position he picked up when Vernon Wells went down for a month in May.

Now, he got into the All-Star Game on his own merits -- not because the Angels needed a player in or his multi-position capabilities. He's hitting .307 on the year with eight home runs and 26 RBI as the most dangerous hitter in the Halos' lineup. Still, those factors probably made his American League peers' decision a bit easier.

"I think that's something that may add some value to me," Kendrick said Sunday. "I don't mind -- I'm going to take every glove I have with me, just in case, because you never know what might happen."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia did little campaigning for Kendrick in the weeks leading up to Sunday's selection show, but he was quick to praise him before Sunday's game, looking back at all the progress Kendrick has made since first arriving in the big leagues in April 2006.

"It's a process, you know," Scioscia said. "Howie's always been extremely athletic, with a gift to be able to hit the ball, but he's turned himself into a total ballplayer, and I think it's just hard work. That's what put him at this level."

It may seem like Kendrick's been at this level for a while, but the 27-year-old has only had 400 at-bats or more once in a season -- last year. He logged between 250 and 375 at-bats each of the previous four seasons.

His batting average and power numbers are set to comfortably break his previous full-year bests, but Kendrick shied away from saying he expected to get the All-Star nod this year.

"I don't really expect anything in life," said Kendrick, who will turn 28 on the day of the game, July 12. "I try to work hard and keep my nose in the game and whatever happens happens. I'm very thankful -- don't get me wrong -- but I don't think I expected it.

"You can't really expect the things that happen; you just have to work hard and continue to progress as a person and a player."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
18 3.59 169 213
OTHER LEADERS
BAH. Kendrick .293
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169