The leadoff hitter is in a one-for-27 slump that dropped his average from .271 on June 10 to .246, and he was clearly pressing when he tried to bunt for a hit — and popped out to the pitcher — with runners on second and third and no outs in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to Arizona.
But left fielder Matt Joyce and catcher Chris Iannetta are also not in the lineup, which normally would be understandable. Both have been mired in season-long slumps, Iannetta hitting .169 with three homers and 14 runs batted in and Joyce batting .189 with four homers and 17 RBIs.
But Joyce had a good game Wednesday night, hitting a triple to deep left-center field, an infield single and drawing a walk, and Iannetta singled sharply to center field twice.
Wouldn’t Scioscia want to get both back in the lineup Thursday to see if they can build on their good swings from the night before and possibly get on a hot streak?
“It’s more of a day-game-after-night-game thing,” Scioscia said. “I think eventually they’ll settle into playing more. Matt was going to be off today regardless of what he did last night."
Scioscia moved second baseman Johnny Giavotella to the leadoff spot, and Taylor Featherston will get the start at shortstop. Efren Navarro, who had a pinch-hit double Wednesday night and is hitting .289 in 21 games, will start in left field and bat sixth.
“You’re definitely balancing the rhythm of when a hitter is going to start swinging the bat well, and you also grind out some at-bats when you’re going poorly, which we’ve done with Matt,” Scioscia said. “In the big picture, it’s one game. Matt is still going to get his opportunity to contribute.
“But we’ve got some guys who we also feel very confident are going to contribute, and Efren is one of those guys. This isn’t anything to do with what Matt did or didn’t do last night. It’s a function of a day game after night game and wanting to get Efren in there.”
Scioscia hopes a day off will help Aybar clear his head a bit.
“He’s been playing a lot, and I think offensively, he’s putting a little pressure on himself because some hits aren’t falling in,” Scioscia said. “I think he still suits our lineup in front of Kole [Calhoun] trying to set the table, but right now, he needs a little bit of a blow.”