BOSTON -- Vladimir Guerrero swings so hard sometimes he looks as if he could strain not only a few of his own muscles, but one of his hitting coach, Mickey Hatcher.
“It hurts me,” Hatcher said. “I get stiff after seeing a few of those swings. Sometimes, the harder they throw, the harder he swings. I think [Tuesday] he was really out of whack.”
Guerrero swung so hard during an 0-for-5 night Tuesday he looked as if he might come right out of his spikes. So, Hatcher suggested Wednesday that Guerrero widen his stance slightly, a move that forces hitters to cut down on their swing a bit.
The result, Hatcher hopes, will be more at-bats such as the one in the fifth inning Wednesday, when Guerrero stroked a clean ground-ball single to center field with a compact, controlled swing.
Guerrero added a ground-ball single to left in the ninth, stole second and scored a big insurance run on Torii Hunter’s single. The Angels beat the Red Sox, 6-4.
The hits didn’t exactly snap Guerrero out of a funk -- the slugger is 10 for 40 (.250) in his last 10 games and has gone eight games without a run batted in. He’s batting .282 with two homers and 12 RBIs on the season.
“I’ve seen him be even worse than [he was Tuesday] and then, all of a sudden, boom, he takes one swing and creates that feeling,” Hatcher said. “I think he and Garret [Anderson] are the same, they feed off a feel.
“Vlad will have a good swing and you’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s the one.’ And it starts to happen. He’s been a little out of whack, but he knows what he needs to do.”
Manager Mike Scioscia did not change his lineup when Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka was scratched because of flu-like symptoms and replaced by left-hander Jon Lester on Wednesday, but he did tweak it.
Anderson and Hunter were flip-flopped in the fourth and fifth spots, Casey Kotchman dropped from sixth to eighth, No. 9 hitter Erick Aybar, who entered with a .356 average, moved to sixth, and catcher Jeff Mathis moved from eighth to seventh.
Mathis, 10 for 22 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last seven games, including a double and a run Wednesday, started for a second straight night, ending a 14-game stretch in which Scioscia alternated starting Mike Napoli and Mathis behind the plate.
Napoli has four homers and nine RBIs but is batting .227 and has not been quite as effective defensively as Mathis, who is batting .364 and will now gain a little edge in playing time over Napoli.
“Jeff is playing terrific baseball, both at the plate and behind the plate, and right now, he’s played himself into more playing time,” Scioscia said.
“We want to give him a chance to get comfortable back there. . . . He’s not missing some pitches he was missing last year when he was struggling.”
Howie Kendrick has picked up the pace of his jogging and is taking ground balls, and the second baseman said Wednesday that his strained left hamstring is “definitely a lot better” than it was Friday, when he was put on the 15-day disabled list.
“I haven’t tried to stretch it out to the max, but it feels pretty good,” said Kendrick, who is batting .500 with five doubles and a triple. “I still have some healing to do.”