Angels release struggling designated hitter Raul Ibanez

The Angels have parted ways with struggling veteran Raul Ibanez

The Angels released struggling veteran Raul Ibanez before Saturday night’s game against the Texas Rangers, cutting ties with a popular 42-year-old and paving the way for promising rookie C.J. Cron to take over as the team’s primary designated hitter.

Ibanez, who last winter signed a one-year, $2.75-million contract that included incentives that could push the deal to $5 million, hit .242 with 29 home runs and 65 runs batted in for the Seattle Mariners in 2013.

But he didn’t come close to replicating last season in his three months with the Angels, batting .157 with a .258 on-base percentage, .265 slugging percentage, three homers, 21 RBIs 43 strikeouts and 23 walks in 57 games.

Ibanez did have two big hits early in the season, a game-tying, three-run homer in the ninth inning against the New York Mets on April 12 and a go-ahead, three-run triple against the Washington Nationals on April 21, and Manager Mike Scioscia expressed confidence in him right up until the end.

“There’s no doubt he’s making some strides in the batter’s box, and you’re seeing better swings,” Scioscia said in Cleveland on Tuesday.  “The bottom line is production. Nobody understands that better than Raul. He knows he needs to have better at-bats. Nobody is working harder than Raul, and we’re confident he’s going to contribute for us.”

Ibanez started three straight games in Cleveland, and he had hits in each of the games, including a hard-hit double on Thursday.

But it was clear that Ibanez was not as dangerous of a hitter as Cron, who homered in Friday night’s 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers and is batting .283 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 35 games since being called up from triple-A Salt Lake on May 3. 

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