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Angels' Juan Rivera is not absent long from left field

Odd man out in new outfield alignment, he starts at the position as Bobby Abreu is used as designated hitter.

August 04, 2010|By Ben Bolch

Reporting from Baltimore — Juan Rivera was back in left field Wednesday, one day after losing his spot as one of the Angels' primary outfielders.

Bobby Abreu will start in left field on most days, with rookie Peter Bourjos in center field and veteran Torii Hunter in right.

But with Baltimore starting left-handed Brian Matusz, Manager Mike Scioscia opted to use Abreu as designated hitter in place of Hideki Matsui, who was hitting .179 against left-handers.

That opened a spot for Rivera, the Angels' hottest hitter last month with a .319 batting average. Given Rivera's surge and Matsui's slump — he batted .228 in July, though his four home runs were twice as many as Rivera hit — might Scioscia consider making Rivera his primary designated hitter?

"We have some guys that are going to have to divvy up some at-bats and some playing time," Scioscia said. "But we need that depth and we're going to need contributions from everyone."

Rivera declined to comment about the Angels' outfield situation through broadcaster Jose Mota, who is also the team's Spanish interpreter.

Abreu appeared to be on board with moving from one corner outfield spot to another, saying "it's a change that we have to make to give an opportunity to the young guy in center field. He can cover a lot of room."

Getting centered

Bourjos made the first highlight-reel catch of his major league career in the first inning, ranging deep into the gap in left-center field to track down Nick Markakis' fly ball on the warning track.

He had his first major league hit in the third inning, a line drive off third baseman Josh Bell's glove for an infield single, and his first stolen base later in the inning when he went to third base on the front end of a double steal.

And, for good measure, Bourjos threw out Luke Scott, who was trying to go from first base to third base in the third inning on Adam Jones' single to left-center field.

Though he has left triple-A Salt Lake behind, Bourjos on Wednesday was selected Pacific Coast League player of the month for July after hitting. 438 with six homers, 23 runs batted in and 37 runs in 28 games.

See you Saturday?

Scioscia said the Angels would wait to see how Scott Kazmir comes out of a bullpen session in the next day or so before committing to him as their starter Saturday in Detroit.

Kazmir was 0-4 with a 13.73 earned-run average over his last four starts before being put on the disabled list last month because of fatigue in his pitching shoulder. Kazmir said the shoulder felt stronger after pitching four simulated innings Monday.

Should Kazmir be unavailable, the Angels could turn to Matt Palmer, who has pitched 14 1/3 scoreless innings in seven appearances for Salt Lake.

Short hops

Catcher Jeff Mathis was hitless in three at-bats in his return after sitting out the previous five games because of sore ribs resulting from a plate collision with Texas' Chris Davis on July 25. … Reliever Kevin Jepsen, shut down since July 28 because of what Scioscia termed a "tired shoulder," was available but did not pitch. … Reliever Jason Bulger, recovering from a strained right shoulder, gave up two hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning in a rehabilitation appearance Tuesday with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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