The plan when the Angels acquired David DeJesus from Tampa Bay on July 28 was for him to be part of a two-position platoon, with DeJesus starting in left field and David Murphy at designated hitter against right-handed pitchers and Shane Victorino (left field) and C.J. Cron (DH/first base) starting against left-handers.
Then DeJesus got off to a slow start with his new team, going five for 41 (.122) in his first 15 games. Cron heated up, batting .338 with four homers and nine runs batted in over 20 games going into Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians, Murphy regained his stroke, and DeJesus' playing time evaporated.
With the Angels desperate for offense — they rank last in the American League in runs per game (3.0), hitting with runners in scoring position (.184), on-base percentage (.278) and slugging (.347) in August — Manager Mike Scioscia has been starting Murphy in left field and Cron at first base or DH against right-handers.
The left-handed-hitting DeJesus, 35, has started once in 11 games, his role essentially reduced to that of pinch-hitting and late-game defense.
Not that he's complaining.
"It's part of the game," DeJesus said. "David is doing great job, C.J. is swinging the bat well. … I want to be a part of a winner, so if it comes to a point where that sacrifices my at-bats, but the team is still producing and doing well, that's part of being a teammate, being part of the team.
"Me moping around is not going to help. If I did that, I would be a virus, and I don't want to be a virus. I want to uplift the guys who are playing. Whether I'm on or off the field, I'm going to be the same guy every day."
Would a 26-year-old DeJesus have felt the same way?
"No, not at all, to be honest with you," he said with a chuckle. "I would not have done that. But I think that's my faith, my experience, which has helped me get to a point where I'm OK with it. It's not like I don't want to play, I do, but these guys are doing well. I just want us to have the best team on the field."
DeJesus has been trying to stay sharp by getting as much work in the batting cage as he can, and maintaining constant contact with hitting coaches Don Baylor, Dave Hansen and Paul Sorrento. He did deliver a pinch-hit, run-scoring single in Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Detroit Tigers.
"It's hard when you don't see pitching and you get one at-bat against Justin Verlander, but that's part of the role, going out there and giving my best," DeJesus said. "If I prepare myself the right way and give 100%, I'm fine with that."
Mike Trout is batting .342 with runners in scoring position but has only 73 at-bats in those situations. Albert Pujols is hitting .221 in 104 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
With that in mind, would Scioscia consider switching the two in the order, hitting Pujols in front of Trout so the struggling Trout, who is batting .200 in August, would have more opportunities with runners in scoring position?
"We've talked about that for a long time," Scioscia said, "but the only guy who is really going to protect Mike is Albert."
Two other problems with such an alignment: Pujols would clog the basepaths in front of the speedy Trout, and Trout, whose walk rate doubled after Pujols suffered a season-ending foot injury in July of 2013, would probably see fewer pitches to hit.
"If we flip-flopped them, we wouldn't have as much depth behind Mike," Scioscia said. "It's not about needing to shake things up. These guys just need to get comfortable in the box."
Scioscia said that Johnny Giavotella, who went on the disabled list because of a personal medical issue on Tuesday, is still "battling his symptoms," and that it is "unclear" when the second baseman will be ready to return. … Cory Rasmus, out since Aug. 16 because of a forearm strain, took a significant step toward a return by throwing off a bullpen mound Tuesday.