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ANGELS FYI

Bobby Abreu knows the problem with his hitting

The Angels right fielder says he is slumping because he's pulling the ball too much.

September 06, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

KANSAS CITY, MO. — There is no secret to Bobby Abreu's offensive struggles, which have extended into a fifth week.

The American League player of the month in July, when he hit .380 with 28 runs batted in, Abreu knows exactly why he is hitting .214 (25 for 117) with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 32 games since Aug. 1.

"I've been pulling the ball too much -- that's why I'm in such a big slump," the Angels' right fielder said. "They're pitching me different now, especially with runners in scoring position. I have to be patient and get back to my normal approach, which is hitting middle-away."

The opposite-field single he lined to left field off Royals ace Zack Greinke in the fourth inning Saturday was a step in the right direction for Abreu, though his strikeout with runners on first and third and no outs in the eighth was a setback.

Abreu's ability to get on base -- he has drawn 21 walks and scored 20 runs in those 32 games -- has kept him in the middle of the order despite his average, which stands at .294.

"He's been so consistent for so long, he's going to have an occasional downturn, and he's going through one right now," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

"But he's still getting on base, working counts and bringing a lot to the offense. And in August, he probably hit 12 frozen ropes right at people. He hasn't been squaring the ball up like he was earlier, but it's nothing to overreact to."

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Pitching in

The Angels hoped the acquisition of Scott Kazmir from Tampa Bay on Aug. 28 would stabilize a rotation that has struggled with a 4.77 earned-run average, 10th best in the league. So far, it has, though the left-hander has had only a small hand in it.

Through Saturday, Angels starters have given up one earned run or fewer in each of the last seven games, with John Lackey and Jered Weaver each making two starts.

They've given up two earned runs or fewer in nine of 10 games. They gave up 35 hits, no homers and four earned runs in their last 49 1/3 innings for a 0.73 ERA.

Angels starters combined for a 5.43 ERA in August, but eight starts were made by youngsters Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Bell, who were force-fed into the rotation because of injuries.

"The rotation right now, we look for it to be a strength for us," Scioscia said, "and that was shown the last time around."

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Short hops

Reliever Jason Bulger, sidelined for the last nine days because of shoulder tightness, threw all of his pitches during a maximum-effort, 25-pitch bullpen session Friday and was available for Saturday's game. . . . Vladimir Guerrero and Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield are the only players in baseball history to collect 1,000 hits with one team in both leagues. Winfield did it with the Yankees and Padres; Guerrero did it with the Expos and Angels.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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ANGELS TODAY

VS. KANSAS CITY

Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

When: 11 a.m.

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

Pitchers: Joe Saunders vs. Luke Hochevar.

Update: Saunders has been a different pitcher since receiving a cortisone injection into his sore shoulder and spending three weeks on the disabled list in August. In two starts since being activated, Saunders has allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 12 innings of wins against Detroit and Seattle. Hochevar is 0-5 with a 7.30 ERA in his last seven starts.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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