Hunter sits it out

Times Staff Writer

Torii Hunter walked into the clubhouse Saturday, took one peek at a lineup card that didn't include his name, and marched directly into Manager Mike Scioscia's office, shutting the door behind him.

He was not there to discuss the weather.

"I'm not used to this," said Hunter, who played 160 games for the Twins last season. "I'm used to playing every day no matter what. Whether I'm struggling or not, I play through it. . . . Of course I fought it. I'm a fighter."

A slugfest, this wasn't. A few minutes with the manager seemed to disarm Hunter, who was given his third day off this season but first that wasn't injury related.

"I understand it," Hunter said. "He wants to give me a blow. He wants to keep everyone healthy for the end of the season. It all boils down to, he makes the lineup, and I respect that."

By rotating his outfielders through the designated hitter spot and giving them occasional days off, Scioscia hopes to avoid the injuries that depleted the Angels last September and October and keep the players fresh for the stretch run and the playoffs.

"Torii knows his importance to our club, and five, six, seven days off over the course of a season is good for maintenance," Scioscia said. "Sometimes it's good to just come here, relax a little bit, let some air out and watch a game."


Scioscia says Chone Figgins, on the disabled list because of a right hamstring strain, will travel with the team to Toronto on Monday, an indication the leadoff batter won't need a minor league rehabilitation stint.

That's fine with Figgins, who is eligible to be activated Tuesday.

"I might get a couple of hits," Figgins said, "and I'd be wasting them down there."

Figgins, who is batting .306 with a .421 on-base percentage, has felt no pain in the hamstring while fielding ground balls aggressively and running from first to third, "and to me, that tells me it's good," Figgins said. "I feel like I could play now."

It has been tough watching the offense struggle without him, but what "hurts more than anything," Figgins said, is missing this weekend's series against the Dodgers.

Figgins, a third baseman, and Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre are best friends who came up together in Colorado's organization and work out together each winter in Florida.

"I love coordinating the infield on how to play the bunt," Figgins said. "[Pierre] is looking at me, and he hears me because I'm so far in. That . . . messes him up. It takes away part of his game. But I can't do that when I'm not playing."


Erick Aybar might be feeling the effects of a heavy workload. The shortstop is in a four-for-18 slump (.222) and is batting .213 (13 for 61) in May after hitting .318 in April.

"He's not squaring some balls up like he was," Scioscia said. "He's a candidate for a day off soon."


Second baseman Howie Kendrick, whose left hamstring strain has kept him on the disabled list since April 14, was evaluated again Saturday after his third straight day off.

"He's not quite ready [to resume his rehab assignment]," Scioscia said. "We want to let it calm down and then move forward."


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