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Scioscia plays it safe with Anderson

Times Staff Writer

Garret Anderson missed his first start of the season Saturday because of a hip injury. And though Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said the injury isn’t serious, he’s not sure when his regular left fielder, the franchise leader in games played, will be back.

“We’re going to take it day by day and make sure this thing’s at a level where he’s not going to be at risk,” Scioscia said. “We’ll keep looking at it every day.”

Anderson, 34, hurt himself hustling to first base to stay out of a double play in the eighth inning Friday and immediately took himself out of the game as a precaution. And with the Angels facing a quick turnaround after Saturday’s night game, Scioscia said it was unlikely Anderson would play today.

Without Anderson, who leads the team in at-bats (95) and was tied for the lead in runs (16) entering Saturday, Scioscia juggled his lineup, moving Maicer Izturis into the third slot and dropping Vladimir Guerrero to cleanup.

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“Our philosophy is it doesn’t matter what number is next to a guy. It’s the grouping in front of him and who’s behind him,” Scioscia said. “The groupings are what is important in bringing continuity to a lineup. These groupings certainly can create offense.”

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Reggie Willits, who took Anderson’s spot in left field, had a red New York Giants jersey hanging in his locker Saturday afternoon.

“That’s my Eli Manning jersey,” he said. “It’s moral support for the NFL draft.”

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As for his own jersey, Willits wears No. 77, the highest number on the team, not out of his affinity for football but because the number he really wanted, 7, was already being worn by hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.

“I just really like 7,” he said.

Willits wasted no time taking advantage of his rare start -- his first in 10 days -- singling in each of his first two at-bats and driving in his first run of the season.

“Everybody knows that the kind of role that I’m in, it’s a pretty hard role to be in: to play maybe once a week,” he said. “My mind-set’s not to go out and go three for four. It’s to go out there and have three quality at-bats. Whether that means a sac bunt, get somebody over, see some pitches, get the guy’s pitch count up. I’m not going to worry about hits and stuff like that.”

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The game-time temperature at U.S. Cellular Field was 68 degrees -- 15 degrees higher than the average temperature for the Angels’ first nine road games.

So perhaps it’s no coincidence that they lost eight of those, scoring two runs a game.

The Angels aren’t using weather as an excuse, however.

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“It part of the schedule, part of where you have to go,” Scioscia said. “It shouldn’t be an issue.”

What rapidly is becoming an issue, however, is the Angels’ poor start away from home.

“We’re certainly setting ourselves behind the eight-ball,” said Scioscia, whose team started Saturday with the best home record and worst road record in the majors. “But that can change in a hurry. I don’t have any reservations about us not being able to play well on the road.

“We should be playing more consistent baseball. And that’s the only thing that we really have to look at. Not who we’re playing or where we’re playing but how we’re playing on a daily basis.”

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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