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Angels' Johnny Giavotella: 'The hits just aren't coming'

Angels' Johnny Giavotella: 'The hits just aren't coming'
Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella tries to tag Dodgers baserunner Yasiel Puig on a stolen base attempt during an exhibition on Mar. 31. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Johnny Giavotella did not move for a long time after he struck out swinging to end Sunday's fourth inning with two runners stranded in scoring position.

The Angels second baseman stared off into the distance, frustrated by the failure that has dominated his 2016 season so far. Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson had toyed with him during a straightforward four-pitch at-bat.

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"I'm just getting off to a slow start," Giavotella said. "I know that I'm a way better hitter than what I've been showing the last couple weeks. But I haven't lost any of my confidence. I'm up there expecting to get hits in every situation."

Giavotella has rarely done what he has expected. In 30 plate appearances this season, he has just three singles and one walk. His .138 on-base percentage is the second-worst in the majors among players with as many chances as he has had.

"The hits just aren't coming," he said. "That's how baseball is."

Utilityman Cliff Pennington replaced him in Sunday's seventh inning. Manager Mike Scioscia hinted Pennington could garner more playing time at Giavotella's expense this week, but declined to spotlight Giavotella's struggles above the other everyday players hitting under .200, including Albert Pujols, C.J. Cron, and Carlos Perez.

Cron is hitting just .100, but he has reached base in each of the Angels' last five games. Perez went 0 for 5 Sunday to drop his average to .172.

Giavotella's 2015, in which he hit .272 with a .318 on-base percentage, was a success. Still, he entered spring training without his starting role secured, according to Scioscia, and it's conceivable he could lose the job with continued poor play.

Short hops

- The Angels remain without a timetable for the return of left-hander Andrew Heaney, who has been on the disabled list for 10 days but has not yet graduated to long tossing. "He's got a ways to go," Scioscia said. Heaney was diagnosed with a left flexor muscle strain following his first start of the season April 5.

- Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has singled once in eight consecutive games and not reached base by any other means in that time. That is the longest streak of those particulars in baseball since Michael Young did it in nine straight games during the 2013 season. Simmons has a 10-game hitting streak.

- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe had eight hits in the three-game series against the Angels but exited in Sunday's 10th inning with a right intercostal strain.

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