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Kelvim Escobar stays in the rotation

Despite his poor start in triple A, he is expected to be on the mound Saturday in Detroit.

June 03, 2009|Bill Shaikin

TORONTO — If the terse answers were any sign, the Angels could be losing their patience with second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Manager Mike Scioscia said before Tuesday's game that the Angels would consider sending Kendrick to the minor leagues but not yet.

"If a guy's showing progress and moving forward, we'll give him a longer leash," Scioscia said. "That's what we're looking for."

After a 6-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, in which Kendrick made a critical baserunning error by apparently losing track of the number of outs and getting doubled off first base, Scioscia said little about the play.

"I think it was obvious," Scioscia said. "It's disappointing."

Did the manager speak to Kendrick about the play?

"It's disappointing," Scioscia said.

Could the play indicate Kendrick might not be playing with confidence?

"It's disappointing," Scioscia said.

Kendrick also had little to say.

"I messed up," he said. "There's your quote."

Kendrick is batting .227, with a .267 on-base percentage. He did not get a hit on the last homestand and batted .193 in May. Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said Kendrick is working hard but "his confidence level is down."

The Angels could replace Kendrick at second base with Sean Rodriguez, the Pacific Coast League leader with 18 home runs at triple-A Salt Lake, or they could move Chone Figgins from third base to second and call up Salt Lake third baseman Brandon Wood.

Escobar good to go

Kelvim Escobar's poor performance in his final minor league rehabilitation performance has not dissuaded the Angels from their plan to activate him to start Saturday in Detroit.

Escobar gave up five runs in five innings Monday for Salt Lake, his first start at the triple-A level after two starts for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

"He gave up some runs, but everything else looked good," Scioscia said.

Escobar was able to maintain his fastball velocity at 93-94 mph through his final inning and to throw all his pitches effectively, Scioscia said.

The Angels' bullpen ranks last in the American League with a 5.86 earned-run average, and Escobar is an experienced reliever.

"He was going to be in our bullpen if he didn't show the stamina to start," Scioscia said. "But, when Kelvim's right, he's one of the most dynamic pitchers in baseball."

With Escobar in the rotation, Matt Palmer moves to the bullpen. Palmer, who has started seven games for the Angels, is 5-0 with a 4.06 ERA.

Hunter in the hunt

The Angels are encouraging fans to cast an All-Star vote for Torii Hunter, spreading the word in e-mails to fans and with announcements at games, on broadcasts and on the team website. However, the Angels do not plan to distribute "Vote for Torii" buttons or T-shirts, or otherwise launch a campaign promoting Hunter.

"I think we can reach the people we need to reach," club spokesman Tim Mead said.

Hunter said the team doesn't need to sponsor a voting drive on his behalf.

"I'd be honored if I made it," he said. "If I don't, it's no big deal. I'll heal my body and go home and see my wife and kids.

"My main goal is not to go to the All-Star game. My main goal is get a World Series championship."

Hunter jumped from 10th to sixth place among AL outfielders. Jason Bay of the Boston Red Sox leads, followed by Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers, Ichiro Suzuki and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners and Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays. No other Angels player ranks among the leaders at his position.


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