In the history of baseball, the act Mike Scioscia executed Monday has been tried thousands of times over. He took a struggling hitter, first baseman C.J. Cron, and dropped him three spots in the lineup.
Cron, the 26-year-old who carried a .100 average into this week's four-game series against the Chicago White Sox, had hit fifth against the six previous left-handers the Angels faced this season. Monday night, he hit eighth.
The move's basis in evidence is tenuous. Is an indeterminate amount of pressure really lessened by a couple more minutes of waiting? Or is the idea simply to lessen the hitter's impact on his team? Regardless, for one night, the strategy worked. Cron notched three hits.
"In C.J.'s case, we're just trying to get him into a grouping where there's not as much on his plate, to have him be part of the middle of our order," Scioscia said. "Right now, he's struggling with some things and we want to give him a chance to see some pitches and not have to worry about being as productive as he was if he was hitting behind Albert [Pujols]."
Scioscia said Cron's problem sourced from his timing. He was behind fastballs and ahead of off-speed pitches. That he had worked walks in four of five games entering Monday was no consolation.
"He can be very productive without drawing walks," the manager said. "It's not about that. What it is about is getting a pitch in your zone and turning it loose, and that's what he's not comfortable with right now."
Scioscia said he is not yet ready to contemplate moving Mike Trout up to the second spot in the Angels' lineup from third to get his best hitter more opportunities. "Maybe if we were 40 games into the season, you'd probably be considering something like that," he said. "It's tough to evaluate when there are a lot of guys that are not in their game yet.