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ANGELS FYI

Vladimir Guerrero stays in Angels' cleanup spot for good reason

The slugger, slowed by injuries this season, will stay where he is because Manager Mike Scioscia doesn't want to add pressure to Kendry Morales or Juan Rivera.

October 10, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

Angels fans take note of Red Sox Manager Terry Francona's decision to drop the slumping David Ortiz from third to sixth in his lineup on May 26 and wonder why Angels Manager Mike Scioscia doesn't do the same with cleanup batter Vladimir Guerrero.

Guerrero slipped into some old habits with the bases loaded in the third inning of Game 1 Thursday night, fouling off two Jon Lester pitches that were well out of the strike zone and swinging through a high-and-away fastball for strike three, ending the inning.

Guerrero, 34, clearly isn't the force he has been in recent seasons -- slowed by injuries, he hit .295 in 100 games, with 15 homers and 50 runs batted -- and the Angels seem to have a better cleanup option in Kendry Morales, who hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs.

But the Angels don't want Morales, in his first full big league season, to feel the added pressure of hitting cleanup, and Juan Rivera, who hit .287 with 25 homers and 88 RBIs, is more comfortable hitting lower in the lineup.

"There are groupings that are working well right now," Scioscia said before Game 2.

"We want to play this out. If it comes to a point where we have to look at some things, we'll consider them. But with a guy like Vlad, one good swing can get him locked in."

In no way, Scioscia said, is he deferring to Guerrero's status as a potential Hall of Fame member or concerned about wounding Guerrero's pride.

"That's a non-issue," Scioscia said. "If you're not getting it done at a level you need to get it done, you understand some changes will have to be made."

Early risers

The Angels did not fly to Boston after Friday night's game, opting instead to hold a brief workout in Angel Stadium today at 10 and then fly east for Game 3, which is scheduled for Sunday at noon EDT, or 9 a.m. body-clock time for the Angels, who haven't played outside of California since Sept. 20.

Scioscia said the Angels will take a full round of batting practice Sunday, meaning players will roll into Fenway Park about 6 a.m. on their body clocks.

Why not fly Friday night? Because the Angels wouldn't arrive in Boston until 8 a.m. EDT or so Saturday, and that, Scioscia said, would be more disruptive.

"We'll land at about 8 p.m., in time for the guys to get a bite to eat and get some sleep," Scioscia said.

The last time the Angels played that early on the East Coast, it didn't go so well.

On April 16, 2007, the Angels lost to the Red Sox, 7-2, in the annual Patriots Day game, which was scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT that day but was pushed to noon because of rain.

On a soggy, chilly day, Ervin Santana was pounded for six runs and six hits in the first inning, which also included an error on a potential double-play ball by second baseman Howie Kendrick.

"It is what it is," Scioscia said of the early start. "If they tell us to play at midnight, we'll play at midnight. That's what the playoffs are about. We'll be ready."

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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