Scioscia has a good idea of how Angels lineup will look
Opening day is more than a month away, but Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that he is leaning toward a lineup that looks like this:
1. Maicer Izturis (3B), 2. Bobby Abreu (DH), 3. Torii Hunter (RF), 4. Kendry Morales (1B), 5. Vernon Wells (LF), 6. Howie Kendrick (2B), 7. Erick Aybar (SS), 8. Jeff Mathis (C), 9. Peter Bourjos (CF).
As for the grouping in the middle, Scioscia likes the idea of sandwiching Hunter and Wells, who bat right-handed, around the switch-hitting Morales. Hunter's edge in speed and ability to go to first and third on singles gives him the edge over Wells in the three-hole.
"His talent and package is what you're looking for in a guy to set the table, to go from first to third," Scioscia said of Hunter. "But if we have to adjust to give us a better look, we'll do it."
There is a concern that the lineup could drop off after Wells and drop off precipitously after Aybar--Mathis hit .195 last season, and Bourjos, who was called up from triple-A Salt Lake in early August, hit .204.
"We need a lineup that flows, that has a situational component, that has depth, and guys need to do some things to create at the bottom," Scioscia said. "I don't know if we're concerned; it's too early to answer that question [about having two dead spots at the bottom of the order]. Peter showed some power [six homers, six doubles, four triples in 181 at-bats], so we'll see where it goes."
The Angels, because of injuries and sub-par seasons from most starters, were unable to get into Scioscia's preferred style of offense last season, which consists of maximizing production with aggressive base-running. The manager expects that component to return this season.
"We never became the batter's-box team we thought we'd be last year, but this year we're going to try to create more offense on the basepaths," Scioscia said. "You can't force, though. You can't force guys to go from first to third if they don't have the ability to do it."
No matter how the order shakes out, the Angels will need better years from their veterans and younger players.
"The lineup clearly hinges on guys to give us more production than last year and on some of our younger guys to contribute," Scioscia said.
--Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.