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ANGELS FYI

They're taking it as it comes

August 06, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Of all the terms used to describe Angels hitters, "patient" isn't one that usually comes to mind.

Yet in their last 12 games before Tuesday, the notoriously free-swinging Angels had averaged 4.6 walks, a 58.6% increase over their season average of 2.9 per game. And in Mark Teixeira's first six games with the team, that average increased to 4.8 walks per game.

"We're taking what the pitchers give us," Teixeira said before the Angels played Baltimore on Tuesday at Angel Stadium. "If the pitchers are going to come out there and pump strikes, we're going to be aggressive and swing."

Then there are nights like Monday, when Teixeira said Orioles pitchers were "a little erratic and we took our walks" -- eight, to be exact.

Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said he has placed no additional emphasis on plate discipline even though the Angels rank 11th in the American League in walks.

"It's always talked about here," he said. "We get the reputation of being too aggressive and swinging at everything, but we don't preach that here. We talk about having good at-bats and working counts. We've always done that."

So what's the difference?

"Our guys, when they get comfortable and they get confident, I think you see a lot more of that," Hatcher said of the walks. "When they're struggling, you see them pressing and swinging at a lot of bad pitches."

Howie Kendrick isn't swinging at many lately. He had walked five times in nine games before Tuesday, one fewer walk than he had in all of June and July.

Two men and two babies

Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, who last month became fathers, said they've both received help navigating the fog of new parenthood.

Saunders said his wife Shanel's parents have helped care for daughter Matea, with his parents soon scheduled to arrive.

Santana said his parents will be staying with him through the rest of the season to assist with the care of son Jonathan Michal.

"I get good sleep," Santana said.

Both pitchers have maintained their All-Star form since becoming fathers, Saunders going 2-0 with a 2.84 earned-run average in four starts and Santana going 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in five starts.

"I'm not sleeping as much as I used to, but I'm loving every minute of it," Saunders said. "It's a blast."

Short hops

Even though the Angels allowed 13 unearned runs as the result of five errors in the two games before Tuesday, Manager Mike Scioscia called his team's defense "an asset" and said, "We have guys that are going to make the plays we need to support our pitching." The Angels have committed 66 errors, sixth most in the league.

Teixeira, on the Orioles' intentionally walking him in the fourth inning Monday to load the bases for Vladimir Guerrero: "It's something you don't really expect. More and more these days, I've seen managers trying to get matchups and trying to get a double play. It's not because he's not afraid of Vlad." Guerrero hit a comebacker to the mound and Jeff Mathis was forced out at home.

Catcher Mike Napoli, recovering from a shoulder injury, went one for four with a double in a minor league rehabilitation game with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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