No easy fix for hit slump
Whatever ails the Angels’ offense, which has produced two runs in 37 innings after Monday night’s loss to the A’s and has essentially been in a two-month funk, there is no blanket cure.
“There are definitely some hitters who need to see more pitches and work counts and some who need to square up that first good fastball,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “There are different solutions for each hitter. It’s a culmination of each guy getting into his game.”
The Angels won the 2002 World Series with a lineup filled with patient hitters, guys who worked counts, but they’ve evolved into more of a free-swinging bunch over the last four years.
Vladimir Guerrero might be the most aggressive hitter in the game. Torii Hunter and Garret Anderson are set-in-their ways veterans who love to hack -- Hunter averages just 35 walks a year and Anderson 28. Howie Kendrick has all of three walks in 149 plate appearances this season.
“You can talk all you want about working counts, being selective, but if a guy throws you a fastball down the middle, you’ve got to swing,” Hunter said. “You can’t just sit there and make your game working counts if that’s not your game.
“You want to get in a good hitter’s count and square the ball up. That’s what we’re working on. . . . I’ve been saying that for months.”
Anderson, who hit .188 (15 for 80) with one home run and eight runs batted in June, was not in the starting lineup for the second day in a row, the first time this season the left fielder did not start consecutive games.
Anderson, who turned 36 Monday, hit .343 (35 for 102) with three homers and 16 RBIs in May, but his dry spell has prompted Scioscia to give the veteran a mental break.
“He can let a little air out, regroup, and he’ll get back after it [tonight],” Scioscia said. “I think he’s pressing a bit. He knows his importance to our club. Maybe his passion doesn’t manifest the way it does in others, but he wants to win as much as anyone here.”
Zach Cone, a high school outfielder from Georgia who was a third-round pick in the June draft, took early batting practice with the Angels on Monday and hit one home run.
Cone, who is expected to sign with the Angels this week, met several players, including Hunter, who showed Cone the pay stub from the twice-monthly check he received Monday. Hunter, who is making $16.5 million this season, was razzed by Scioscia and several players for showing the kid his check, but he provided a defense.
“Kirby used to do that to me,” Hunter said, referring to former Twins teammate Kirby Puckett. “He did it to motivate me.”
Kelvim Escobar, sidelined all season because of a shoulder tear, gave up one single and struck out four in three innings of his second rehabilitation start, for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Monday night. The Angels targeted 45 pitches for Escobar, but the right-hander was so efficient he needed only 39 pitches -- 27 were strikes -- to complete three innings. He will probably throw 55 to 60 pitches in his next start Saturday.