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ANGELS FYI

Howie Kendrick is back in the infield mix

Second baseman returns from minor leagues, where he was sent June 12.

July 05, 2009|Jim Peltz

The Angels recalled second baseman Howie Kendrick just as his replacement, Maicer Izturis, was getting hot at the plate.

So on Saturday, at least, they both played.

Izturis, known as Izzy, was shifted to shortstop in the starting lineup to make room for Kendrick at second base against the Baltimore Orioles, with Erick Aybar, who played shortstop Friday, taking a turn on the bench.

And Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said he'll continue to mix his infielders so that they all get enough playing time.

Kendrick was sent to triple-A Salt Lake on June 12 after he slumped to .231 this season with a .281 on-base percentage. Kendrick had a career .306 batting average before the season.

He played 20 games in triple-A, hitting .346 with six doubles, and was called back to the Angels after Friday's game, the game in which Izturis' batting average climbed to .301.

Sean Rodriguez, in turn, was sent back to Salt Lake.

"Sean had not been getting a lot of playing time up here and he needs to play," Scioscia said. "We definitely want to take a look and see what Howie can do and have him see if he can be the part that we anticipated" to help the club.

"In the meantime, you've got to give Izzy and Erick some days off here and there, too, so we'll be able to work them all into the lineup," he said.

Kendrick, who admitted he was pressing when he was sent down and hoped the minor league stint would be "a reality check," didn't take batting practice Saturday and was unavailable for comment before the game because his flight was late.

Torii Hunter, one of Kendrick's biggest supporters, said "I'm excited for him" being recalled.

"He was hurt," Hunter said, adding that he hoped Kendrick would come back with "that anger. Don't just leave it down there, bring that with you so you can keep it going."

Scioscia said the team would "be careful not to make Howie feel like he needs to press, like every at-bat is vital."

"That was one of the reasons why we sent him down because I think a lot of these things were happening up here," Scioscia said.

Hunter recalled that he went through the same scenario with the Minnesota Twins in 2000.

"I was upset," he said, but played well in the minors and "I came back with that same attitude and my career just took off from there."

Kendrick previously had hit so well that several teammates predicted he'd eventually win a batting title. Hunter says he still believes that.

"I promise you Howie's going to win it one day," Hunter said.

Then he added with a laugh: "Well, once Ichiro [Suzuki] gets out of the league."

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Trembley's take

Baltimore Manager Dave Trembley needed no prodding when asked his opinion of the Angels this season.

"They set the bar very high," Trembley said. "They've got balance in their lineup."

Scioscia, Trembley said, "has guys he can match up with out of the bullpen, he's got guys he can platoon with," such as catchers Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis.

"These guys are every bit as good as the teams in the East because they play that style of baseball," said Trembley, whose struggling Orioles are last in the American League East.

"They've got guys who will work the count to death on you, they've got guys who will hit the ball out of the ballpark in the middle, they've got great defense in the middle of the infield. They've got a good team."

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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ANGELS TODAY

VS. BALTIMORE

When: 12:30 p.m.

Where: Angel Stadium.

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

Pitchers: Joe Saunders vs. Rich Hill.

Update: The Angels close their four-game series with the Orioles with Saunders trying to bounce back from his previous start, in which he gave up eight runs -- including four home runs -- in only 3 2/3 innings in the team's 9-5 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. But Saunders is 5-0 all-time against the Orioles. Hill is making his first career start against the Angels. He is 3-2 in his six road starts this season.

-- Jim Peltz

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