Torii Hunter bats second in the order as Angels search for offense
Torii Hunter did not object to being moved from the cleanup spot, where he has spent most of this season, to the second spot, a slot he hadn’t started in since he was a 23-year-old rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 1999.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” Hunter said Wednesday before the Angels’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “The last four days were the worst.”
The Angels had lost four straight and six of seven games entering Wednesday, scoring 13 runs and hitting .190 with runners in scoring position in the seven games.
Hunter has struggled under the burden of carrying a club that is without slugger Kendrys Morales for the whole season and lost Vernon Wells for a month and Howie Kendrick for two weeks in May.
The right fielder now has a .238 average, eight home runs and 32 runs batted in, has grounded into 17 double plays, most in the American League, and, he conceded, “I’m not really a four-hole hitter.”
But a two-hole hitter? In his 13-year big-league career, Hunter had started only 16 games in the second spot, batting .219 (14 for 64) with two homers and five RBIs.
“Am I going to get more fastballs in the two-hole? I doubt it, but it would be lovely,” Hunter said.
“I can get on base for the big guys, the three-four-five guys, and see what happens.”
The three-four-five hitters in the lineup Wednesday, Alberto Callaspo, Bobby Abreu and Kendrick, have combined for 12 homers, but it’s not as if many other configurations have worked.
The Angels have scored two runs or fewer in 22 of their 64 games.
“The last four days have been kind of silent,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to stir it up a bit.”
Manager Mike Scioscia said he considered moving Mark Trumbo to the middle of the order but didn’t want to put any more pressure on the rookie first baseman, who has a .257 average, 11 homers and 29 RBIs.
“He has the potential to hit in the middle of the order, and if it would be a positive move for us later in the year, we’d consider it,” Scioscia said. “Right now, he’s comfortable where he is.”
The son also rises
The Angels used 19 of their final 20 picks on the last day of the draft Wednesday on college or community college players, including Notre Dame catcher Matt Scioscia, son of the Angels manager.
Mike Scioscia said Matt, who hit only .200 (six for 30) this season, would sign Thursday after being picked in the 45th round.
Among the team’s other picks were UCLA pitcher Brandon Lodge, the son of Roger Lodge of KLAA-AM (830), in the 47th round, UCLA outfielder Christopher Giovinazzo in the 39th round and UC Santa Barbara pitcher Matthew Vedo in the 49th round.
In all, 42 of the Angels’ 49 picks were college players, a stark contrast to the strategy of former scouting director Eddie Bane, who leaned heavily toward high school players. Bane was fired last September and replaced by Ric Wilson.
“We wanted to get balance into our system right away,” Wilson said in a statement. “That was our basic premise behind doing what we did.”
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