Reserves are key contributors to Angels' backup plan

Reserves are key contributors to Angels' backup plan
Efren Navarro is hitting .357 in five major league games with the Angels this season. (Drew Hallowell / Getty Images)

The Angels' Efren Navarro hopes his latest cup of coffee in the big leagues is good to the last drop.

Entering Thursday's game, the first baseman and outfielder had five hits — including three doubles — in 14 at-bats and had driven in two runs since being called up from triple-A Salt Lake a week ago.


Navarro, a longtime minor leaguer who turned 28 on Wednesday, is one of several reserves who have helped the Angels score runs recently while they await the return of regulars Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun and David Freese.

The other reserves include Collin Cowgill, C.J. Cron, Grant Green and Luis Jimenez, and "these guys have all contributed," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

"They need to keep contributing because we're not obviously as deep on the offensive end as we hope to be in a couple of weeks," he added.

When the season started, the Angels' farm system was ranked at or near the bottom among big league clubs by Baseball Prospectus and others. But Scioscia said, "The depth of our organization has showed up both on the pitching side and on the position-player side."

Before his latest call-up, the left-handed Navarro had made only two other brief appearances in the big leagues while otherwise spending seven years in the minors, where he's a .295 career hitter.

To play in the major leagues is "just a passion, it's a dream that I've had since I was 5 years old," he said.

"I still have a lot left to prove to myself and I know this is where I belong. It's just a matter of time and place."

Navarro was born in Lynwood and attended Lynwood High; his parents, Efren Sr. — Navarro technically is Efren Navarro Jr. — and Guadalupe still live in Lynwood.

Navarro then spent three years at Nevada Las Vegas before being drafted by the Angels in 2007.

"There is some pressure" while playing with the Angels, he said. "In my situation you want to play well and be able to produce and show the guys and the coaches that this is where I belong.

"It's a blessing to be here, knowing the guys who are in front of me," Navarro said. "I'm going to enjoy it and contribute as best as I


Injury update

Hamilton took batting practice for the first time since he injured his left thumb and went on the disabled list April 9.

"He's kept himself as close as he can to staying in baseball shape with some of the drills he's done," Scioscia said, adding that it's hoped Hamilton can start playing rehabilitation games in a week or so.

Calhoun, a fellow outfielder on the disabled list since mid-April because of a sprained right ankle, was scheduled to join triple-A Salt Lake in Reno on Friday to start playing rehab games.

"Hopefully everything goes good and [I'll] be back sometime the middle of next week," Calhoun said.