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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Angels might hit Bobby Abreu second

Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- On the first day position players reported to camp, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia shed a little bit of light on what his batting order will look like.

It sounds as though he likes Bobby Abreu in the No. 2 slot with Torii Hunter, Hideki Matsui, Kendry Morales, Juan Rivera and Howie Kendrick to follow.

"I think the template is to have Bobby hit second and have one guy hit ahead of him that's going to be able to feed Bobby and to be able to feed the middle of the lineup," Scioscia said Tuesday. "We're going to have a middle of the lineup that's going to be tweaked occasionally, but those guys are going to be in there every day."

As expected, the loss of leadoff hitter Chone Figgins via free agency to Seattle is causing suspense.

Who will hit at the top of the order and how often?

Scioscia thinks he's got that covered, too, in shortstop Erick Aybar and utility man Maicer Izturis, options he referred to as "a pair of very exciting choices."

After showing promise at the plate in 2008 with a .277 batting average and a .314 on-base percentage in 375 plate appearances, the 26-year-old Aybar became the player the Angels envisioned and even beyond when they dealt Orlando Cabrera away two seasons ago.

He hit .312/.353 in 2009 in 556 plate appearances last year, a season Scioscia described as "a terrific season on the offensive side."

The 29-year-old Izturis hit .300/359 last season in a career-high 437 plate appearances, sharing time at second, short and third. Like Aybar did a year ago, he first opened eyes in 2007 when he hit .289/.349 and drove in 51 runs in 336 at-bats and even worked his way into the No. 3 slot in Scioscia's batting order.

"Both these guys might get it done a little bit different," Scioscia said. "One guy might work counts a little better because of his experience, but Erick's a guy that with experience he'll do some things on a more consistent basis that will make him a more dynamic guy to hit in the beginning of the lineup.

"Erick's come a long way [and] brought so many positives to the lineup and there are some things he's going to have to grow in to. It doesn't mean he's not ready to hit in front of the middle of our lineup, whether it's first or second maybe a third hitter at some point in his career.

"Izzy probably has a track record of working counts a little bit better. I think both those guys are going to be important to our offense."

Izturis is also very important around the infield and will likely be the fourth infielder for three spots because of his versatility.

Scioscia plans to give minor league slugging sensation Brandon Wood a long look at third base. Wood has 160 homers in seven minor league seasons, but a .192 batting average over a sporadic 224 at-bats over parts of three seasons in the majors.

"We do need production from that spot," Scioscia said. "Brandon is a guy that we are very, very comfortable with on the defensive end."

Notes

Scioscia expects Abreu in camp shortly and said Morales is finishing up paperwork to re-enter the country.