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ANGELS FYI

Bobby Abreu has had an effect on Angels' offense

Young hitters have paid attention to the veteran's patience and quality at-bats.

August 23, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

TORONTO — Bobby Abreu had an off day Saturday, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, but the veteran right fielder's impact this season has been far-reaching in terms of plate discipline and patience.

In the previous five seasons, the Angels averaged 3.65 pitches per plate appearance, ranking 12th, 13th or last in the American League in that category each year.

This season, the Angels rank fourth in the AL with an average of 3.88 pitches per plate appearance, and they have had their most productive offense in years, leading the major leagues in average, runs and hits and ranking second in the AL in on-base percentage.

Leadoff batter Chone Figgins has played a huge role -- he ranks third in the league in pitches per plate appearance (4.17) and walks (76) and is tied for sixth in on-base percentage (.401).

But Abreu, who ranks fifth in the AL in pitches per plate appearance (4.14), sixth in on-base percentage (.399) and seventh in walks (70), has played more of a mentoring role for youngsters such has Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis, who have all developed into superb hitters.

"What Bobby has brought, with his on-base percentage and walks, has been huge," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But walks, for some guys like Figgins and Mike Napoli, have been a part of their history. Our production is more a function of getting into good counts and getting a pitch to hit."

Abreu has led by example, stringing quality at-bat after quality at-bat and refusing to chase pitches out of the strike zone, but there is more to it than what he does at the plate.

"It's not just that they see what Bobby does and say, 'I want to do that,' " Scioscia said. "Bobby talks to guys about situations, and some guys have been enlightened.

"Like when you get into a hitter's count, don't be so aggressive you give the count right back to the pitcher. Plate discipline has definitely been a big part of our guys' getting into good counts and into a position to be productive."

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Salt Lake-bound

Hold your head up; you have nothing to be ashamed of.

That was the message Scioscia gave to Sean O'Sullivan on Saturday when the struggling right-hander, as expected, was demoted to triple A and reliever Rafael Rodriguez was recalled.

"You have to keep perspective -- he's only 21," Scioscia said. "Don't get down. It's his first go-round. There are things he needs to get consistent at to reach his long-term upside."

O'Sullivan gave up four runs in the first inning of Friday night's 5-4 loss and was pulled after walking the leadoff batter in the second.

After going 3-0 with a 3.72 earned-run average in his first five big league starts, O'Sullivan gave up 20 earned runs and 23 hits, including seven homers, in 14 2/3 innings of his last four starts.

"His ability to command the strike zone is vital," Scioscia said. "He was doing that earlier; then it just disappeared."

With Matt Palmer throwing four innings -- and giving up only one run -- and Jose Arredondo throwing three scoreless innings and striking out five in relief of O'Sullivan on Friday, the bullpen needed some reinforcements.

So the call was made for Rodriguez, who has a 6.97 ERA in 12 appearances during his three stints with the Angels this season.

Joe Saunders will be activated off the disabled list to start Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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ANGELS TODAY

AT TORONTO

When: 10 a.m. PDT.

Where: Rogers Centre.

On the air: TV: Ch. 13; Radio: 830, 1330.

Pitchers: Trevor Bell vs. Ricky Romero.

Update: Bell has given up 18 hits in 10 2/3 innings of his first two big league starts, but he kept the Angels in a 10-5 win over Tampa Bay on Aug. 12, and he notched his first win in Cleveland on Tuesday. Romero, a former Cal State Fullerton standout, has had some control problems this season, striking out 92 but walking 50 in 125 1/3 innings. Left-handers are batting .311 against the left-handed Romero, right-handers only .249.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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