Sports

Kole Calhoun is trying to figure out role with Angels

SportsLos Angeles AngelsBaseballMajor League BaseballMike TroutHank CongerJosh Hamilton

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kole Calhoun is having a little identity crisis.

"I've kind of had these weird baseball personalities," the Angels right fielder said. "Am I a leadoff guy? A power guy? A guy who steals bases? I don't know. I just want to play, and you can define what it is that I do."

The Angels want Calhoun to bat leadoff, but they don't need him to be Rickey Henderson. They'd gladly take Calhoun's final two months of 2013, when he was called up from triple A in late July and hit .282 with a .347 on-base percentage, a .462 slugging percentage, eight home runs and 32 runs batted in.

"With some of the adjustments he's made with his swing and approach, he's really become a tough out," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he runs well enough, and he hit left-handed pitching last year, too, so hopefully he's going to be a guy who can help set the table for the middle of the order."

The left-handed-hitting Calhoun, who walked twice and scored a run in the Angels' 5-2 exhibition loss to Arizona on Saturday, has never been a regular leadoff man. He hit second through fifth for most of his four minor league seasons.

But he did average 3.91 pitches per plate appearances in 58 major league games last season, the fourth-highest rate among Angels regulars behind Mike Trout (4.21), Chris Iannetta (4.17) and Hank Conger (4.03).

"I'm going to see a lot more pitches, but other than that, nothing will be different," Calhoun said. "I'm trying not to attach anything to being the 'leadoff guy.' I want to get on base, score some runs and help us win games."

Cold front

Temperatures are rising in the Phoenix area, but the Angels offense has cooled considerably since it banged out 15 hits in a 15-3 win over the Chicago Cubs in the Cactus League opener Feb. 28. In nine games since, the Angels have scored 27 runs and hit .259 (76 for 294).

Only three regulars, Howie Kendrick (.462), Iannetta (.444) and Trout (.429), are swinging the bat well. Struggling to find their strokes are Calhoun (.211), Raul Ibanez (.200), Erick Aybar (.182), Albert Pujols (.160), David Freese (.091) and Conger (.077).

Pujols, who is running better and moving well around the first base bag in his return from July's season-ending foot injury, had one hit in 15 at-bats before hitting a run-scoring single in the fifth inning Sunday.

"We opened up like gang-busters in that first game," Scioscia said. "I don't anticipate these guys needing many more at-bats before they get into their games. We haven't really driven the ball the way we can, but that will take a little bit of time."

Short hops

Left fielder Josh Hamilton, sidelined for a week and a half because of a left calf strain, is scheduled to take batting practice on the field Sunday, and Scioscia said Hamilton should be ready play in games "within a week or so." … Reliever Sean Burnett, a key left-hander who is recovering from elbow surgery, said he should begin throwing off a mound "early" this week. … The Angels, in anticipation of retaining several players who are on minor league deals, opened two spots on their 40-man roster by passing reliever Robert Carson and catcher John Hester through waivers and transferring them to triple-A Salt Lake.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna

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SportsLos Angeles AngelsBaseballMajor League BaseballMike TroutHank CongerJosh Hamilton
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