He kept his head under pressure

Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Howie Kendrick wasn’t accusing Yankees reliever Chris Britton of throwing at him when he buzzed a ninth-inning fastball at the Angels second baseman’s head Thursday night.

But if the pitch was intentional . . .

“Keep it down, not at the head,” Kendrick said. “Not that he did it on purpose or anything. . . . There’s no hard feelings on my end, but at the same time, you don’t really like getting thrown at your head.”

The pitch did look a little suspicious considering Kendrick’s off-the-charts success against the Yankees -- a .527 career average (29 for 55) and .585 on-base percentage entering Friday.


You can’t blame the Yankees for trying to make Kendrick a little less comfortable in the batter’s box, but their intimidation tactics, if that’s what they were, didn’t work.

Kendrick, after avoiding the high-and-tight fastball, smacked Britton’s next pitch into left field for a single, his third hit in the Angels’ 12-6 victory.

“I guess the numbers are all right -- I’m just trying to get lucky,” Kendrick said of his success against the Yankees. “I like playing here. I like playing in Boston. The fans are rowdy, real loud, and with all the history here, every game seems like a playoff game.”

Empty feeling


Doctors told Kelvim Escobar he would need nine to 12 months to recover from Tuesday’s surgery to repair a shoulder tear, but the right-hander is shooting for something closer to seven months.

“I’m very positive, I’m in great shape, I think it will be less than a year,” said Escobar, who visited his teammates in Yankee Stadium on Friday. “In my mind, I think I can be ready for spring training.

“Everything went well. They didn’t have to touch my rotator cuff. They just fixed my labrum a bit. That’s a good sign.”

Even without Escobar, who went 18-7 with a 3.40 earned-run average last season, the Angels are well on their way to another division title. But Escobar can’t help but feel a little left out.


“It’s hard for me to watch being hurt, knowing I can’t do anything to help,” Escobar said. “But at the same time, I’m proud of my teammates, the pitching staff. I don’t feel guilty” about getting hurt.

No relief

General Manager Tony Reagins got the big bat he was looking for when he acquired Mark Teixeira from Atlanta for Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher on Tuesday, but he was unable to bolster the bullpen before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

“We had some preliminary discussions about relievers, but for what other teams were asking for, there wasn’t a fit,” said Reagins, who joined the team in New York on Friday. “I wasn’t disappointed. I’m confident in the guys we have in this room.”


Leave of absence

The Angels will be without one of their hottest hitters for the last two games against the Yankees. Torii Hunter, who has five home runs and 14 runs batted in on this trip, will return to Pine Bluff, Ark., today for the funeral of his grandmother.

Hunter is expected to return for Monday night’s game against Baltimore in Anahiem.

He will not be put on baseball’s bereavement list.