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Angels face daunting task of playing without shortstop Erick Aybar again

Angels face daunting task of playing without shortstop Erick Aybar again
Angels shorstop Erick Aybar, making a throw during a July 29 game at Houston, is out of the lineup Friday for the second straight game because of a back injury. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

The Angels will go at least one more night without shortstop Erick Aybar, who sat out Thursday night's game against the Kansas City Royals because of tightness in the lower left side of his back and is not in the lineup for Friday night's game.

Aybar, a switch-hitter who is batting .273 with 20 doubles and 35 runs batted in, received treatment for several hours Friday afternoon, but Manager Mike Scioscia was not sure by game time whether Aybar would be available to play.

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"Erick is better, but he's still not where he needs to be," Scioscia said. "He's moving in the right direction, which is good."

Taylor Featherston, a solid defender who is batting .126, will start at shortstop for the second straight game. Scioscia pulled Featherston for a pinch-hitter Thursday night, and with Aybar unavailable, the Angels used a makeshift infield for the ninth inning of a 7-6 victory over the Royals, with first baseman Albert Pujols at third base, second baseman Johnny Giavotella at shortstop, third baseman Conor Gillaspie at second and outfielder Kole Calhoun at first.

How much longer can the Angels afford to wait on Aybar before they summon a true shortstop?

"We're very encouraged by the direction it moved today, but certainly, if he's going to be down for a week to 10 days, you have to look at some other options," Scioscia said. "But this is day two, and hopefully it won't be much longer."

Aybar is not a perennial All-Star or Gold Glove Award winner, but he's a durable and dependable veteran who is almost impossible to replace because the Angels have no one on their roster or in the minor leagues who can come close to replicating what he does.

"It's an eye-opener for some people when a person like Erick is not there, because a lot of people take him for granted," Scioscia said. "Not us. He's part of the heartbeat of this team. He plays every game, every inning, and he plays at a high level. He can do so many things on the field that help you win games. A big piece of our lineup is missing."

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