Angels hitters hold meeting to pick each other up


As part of their normal routine, the Angels held a hitters’ meeting Monday before opening a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said he didn’t do much talking.

Instead, Albert Pujols spoke of enduring team losing streaks and cold hitting spells and still winning a World Series.

Someone else spoke about how the team should continue an approach that a day earlier produced more sharply hit balls, but not any runs.

“The positive things that are being said … this clubhouse is not separating, it’s bonding more than ever,” Hatcher said. “I tell them, ‘The magic can start today.’ I refuse to do it any other way.”

Some Angels fans have been calling for Hatcher’s job, but the veteran coach — he is in his 13th season with the Angels — has been through public unrest before. That he is going through it again with the last-place team that ranks 13th in the American League in runs and batting average is no surprise.

“In 2002, we couldn’t have started off worse, but those guys came together and that’s what these guys are doing,” Hatcher said. “I wish [fans] could sit in on our meetings, and be in our dugout during games and hear how these guys talk to each other. They’re trying to get through it. Together.”

Manager Mike Scioscia gave Hatcher a vote of confidence, saying, “He’s the guy who can get these guys back on track. He’s a great teacher.”

As he spoke of the attitude it’ll take to reverse this season’s course, Hatcher saw a drenched Pujols emerge from a batting cage and former Angels star Tim Salmon stride past saying, “Glad to see you’re smiling.”

“Have I ever not?” Hatcher replied.

Hatcher said speculation about job security comes with the territory, especially with the Angels batting .235 before Monday’s game.

“[Angels owner] Arte Moreno brought me here to make a difference,” Hatcher said. “If it doesn’t work out, that’s life. I can’t worry about all that other stuff. That came up in the meeting: ‘Forget what’s being said about you. Just focus between the lines.’ That’s where we’ll do it.”

Opting out

With a Tuesday contract deadline looming and a major league logjam at his position, first baseman Jorge Cantu left the Angels’ triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, to become a free agent.

Cantu, 30, was batting .291 (25 for 86) with four home runs and 22 runs batted in in 21 games. He hit .277 with two homers and 10 RBIs as a non-roster invitee to spring training.

Ervin Santana is optimistic

Ervin Santana dropped to 0-5 on Sunday, but he said his fastball location and 95-mph velocity bodes well for the future.

“That was me, right there,” he said. “I’ll take that to the next outing.”