Torii Hunter knows he's made some strides in plate discipline, but 42 walks at the All-Star break for a free-swinging veteran whose career high in walks is 50, set in 2003 and 2008?
"That's usually a whole season for me," the Angels center fielder said. "It's amazing. I looked at that when we were in Oakland last week. I knew one day I'd be more patient, but not this quick."
Hunter credits Bobby Abreu, who joined the Angels in 2009, with schooling him on how to wait for the best pitch to hit in an at-bat, but he knows there is another obvious reason his walks are up: Kendry Morales is out.
Hunter, who entered the second half with a .298 average, .385 on-base percentage, 15 home runs and 62 runs batted in, had 18 walks in the first 47 games of the season, when Morales was hitting behind him.
The cleanup batter has 23 walks in 39 games since Morales suffered a season-ending leg injury May 29. With Hideki Matsui (.252) and sometimes Mike Napoli (.246) and Juan Rivera (.244) hitting fifth, opponents have been pitching around Hunter a lot more than usual.
"There have been some at-bats where it's obvious," Hunter said. "You have to take the walk and hope the guy behind you gets a hit, because if you force a swing, you're not going to hit it good.
"I have to be even more patient now, because if I force a swing, I may not be helping the team. If it takes 80-90 walks for me to help the team, I'll do it."
Rivera, who sat out six games from June 30-July 5 because of stress-related blurred vision, went to an eye doctor for a checkup Wednesday.
"My vision is back to normal," the left fielder said. "Everything is OK."
The Angels need Rivera to be more than OK in the second half. He hit .287 with 25 homers and 88 RBIs last season but entered Thursday with a .240 average, 10 homers and 34 RBIs.
Rivera is a career .264 first-half hitter and a .298 second-half hitter, "and hopefully that happens again this year," he said.
Of course, there is no guarantee struggling veterans such as Rivera, Matsui and Abreu, despite their track records, will heat up.
"There are some trends that give you confidence something will happen," Scioscia said. "But it's not an exact science. We definitely need more from Juan, Bobby and Hideki. I don't consider it a wing and a prayer when you're talking about these guys in the second half, but you can't just predict what they're going to do."
Not Nap time
You know you're not going very good when a guy who has one hit in 18 at-bats is starting in front of you, but that's the reality first baseman Napoli faced Thursday night.
Napoli went hitless in 14 at-bats before the break and was on the bench in favor of Paul McAnulty against Seattle. McAnulty, who bats left-handed, did not have a hit since his July 4 homer against Kansas City in his first game for the Angels, but he had a couple of singles Thursday.
Scioscia said it "won't be a straight platoon" with McAnulty and Napoli, who is batting .246 with 14 homers and 37 RBIs and ranks fourth in the American League with 84 strikeouts.
"When Mike is on, he can hit anyone, and so can Paul when he's on," Scioscia said. "But we're looking for more consistency from the position, and if that takes mixing and matching, we'll go that route."