BOSTON -- In a second attempt to jump-start Josh Hamilton’s lifeless bat, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia moved the struggling right fielder from the fifth spot in the batting order to the second spot -- between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols -- for the first game of Saturday’s split-doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.
The hope is that Hamilton, who is batting .216 with eight home runs, 18 runs batted in and 62 strikeouts and has been particularly vulnerable to off-speed and breaking pitches off the plate, will see a few more fastballs with Trout on base.
Torii Hunter thrived in the same spot last season, batting .343 with nine homers and 69 RBIs in 85 games after moving to the two-hole in early June.
But that wasn’t necessarily the motive, according to Scioscia, whose move of Hamilton from the cleanup to the fifth spot in late April did nothing to spark the former Texas Rangers star, who has been one of baseball’s biggest disappointments since signing a five-year, $125-million deal in December.
“That’s going to depend on individual pitchers and maybe some of their stuff,” Scioscia said when asked if Hamilton would see different pitches in the two-hole. “I don’t think that’s the purpose as much as trying to bottle-shock some things to get Josh going.”
The switch forced Trout, who seemed to benefit from his move to the second spot on April 11 -- he entered Saturday with a .293 average, 10 homers and 38 RBIs -- back to the leadoff spot and moved leadoff man Erick Aybar to eighth.
Since winning 10 of 12 games in late May, the Angels have lost five of six, scoring just 18 runs in the six games.
“There are some things that we're working in our lineup with Mike hitting second, particularly for Mike, where he had a lot of RBI opportunities and was doing a good job,” Scioscia said. “Hopefully, we’ll still be able to feed Mike with some guys at the bottom of the lineup, but right now, I think for the benefit of our whole lineup, we have to try to adjust some things.”