Napoli, Mathis try to regain batting touch
SEATTLE -- Misery loves company, which might explain the proliferation of commiseration in the Irvine condominium shared by catchers Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis.
Napoli was batting .273 with eight home runs and 15 runs batted in on May 7, but in 18 games since, he’s hitting .130 (six for 46) with two homers and eight RBIs, his average falling to .214. Mathis was batting .364 with three homers and seven RBIs on April 23. In his next 15 games, he hit .083 (four for 48) with no homers and two RBIs.
“We’re together all the time, and it’s been pretty miserable,” Mathis said. “We’re just scuffling right now, trying to break out of it.”
Monday night could be a start. Mathis, who is trying to find “a couple tweaks in my stance I know I got away from” in May, hit a two-run homer in the third inning off Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn to snap an 0-for-13 skid.
Napoli doesn’t think his early power led to bad batting habits, but he’s “trying to get back to what I was doing before, hitting the ball hard up the middle,” he said. “I’m trying to stay on pitches, work counts.”
Easing the pain for both catchers has been their expert guidance of a pitching staff that has been the primary reason the Angels went 8-4 despite scoring four runs or fewer in 12 games before Monday.
“We’re both trying to leave our at-bats in the dugout because we have two jobs,” Mathis said. “As long as you’re calling good games, those 0 for 4s are easier to swallow.”
Vladimir Guerrero did not play for the third time in eight games Monday, but this was not a scheduled night off.
Guerrero’s right knee, which he jammed sliding into third during the Angels’ ninth-inning rally Sunday, was still tender Monday, “but we don’t anticipate it being more than a day-to-day thing,” Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Guerrero, who is batting .249 with seven homers and 28 RBIs after hitting .300 with at least 25 homers in each of the last 10 seasons, declined to speak to reporters.
Chone Figgins, back on the disabled list because of a right hamstring strain, ran for the first time in more than a week Monday and could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
“It’s a little sore,” he said, “but I want to see if that’s from not doing anything for a while or from the injury.”
Through Sunday, the Angels averaged 3.5 runs a game in the 24 games Figgins missed. In 34 games with Figgins in the leadoff spot, they averaged 4.7 runs.
Torii Hunter has some advice for the Little Leaguers who saw him dive headfirst into first base trying to beat out a grounder Saturday night: Don’t try this at home.
“That was the first time in my entire career I’ve done that, and it will be the last time -- I won’t do it again,” Hunter said. “The next day, I felt like I had played a football game. My whole body was stiff. Kids, don’t ever slide headfirst into first. It’s false hustle.”
Kelvim Escobar, recovering from a shoulder tear, has increased the intensity of his flat-ground work and could begin throwing off a mound early next week, pitching coach Mike Butcher said. . . . Shortstop Erick Aybar, on the DL since May 21 because of a dislocated right pinkie, has resumed throwing, not hitting.
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