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Hideki Matsui and Kendry Morales switch places in Angels' batting order

ANGELS FYI

Mike Scioscia says the move is intended to take some pressure off Matsui, who had been hitting cleanup, with Morales in the fifth spot.

May 03, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Boston —

Manager Mike Scioscia, looking to shake up the offense after the Angels were swept in a three-game series in Detroit, flip-flopped Hideki Matsui and Kendry Morales in the fourth and fifth spots Monday night.

Matsui batted cleanup in each of the team's first 26 games, but the designated hitter was mired in a three-for-25 slump that dropped his average from .310 on April 24 to .260 through Sunday. He was one for four in the Angels' 17-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

Morales had started every game in the fifth spot, and the first baseman, who is batting .323 after his three-hit game Monday, leads the team with six home runs and 16 runs batted in. But he has no homers and only one RBI in his last seven games.

"We're just looking to take some pressure off Hideki," Scioscia said. "We moved Kendry up, and we'll look at some options as we move forward. It's not necessarily a promotion or a demotion. We're just trying to find some groupings that will work."

Matsui, who made his third start in left field Monday but will probably be given his first day off Tuesday night, when left-hander Jon Lester starts for the Red Sox, took the switch in stride.

"It doesn't matter to me where I hit in the lineup," Matsui said through an interpreter. "The move doesn't bother me at all."

Catcher in the wry

Bobby Wilson suffered a concussion and a left-ankle sprain in a violent collision at the plate with New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira in Angel Stadium on April 23, but the reserve catcher's sense of humor remains firmly intact.

Wilson spent about three hours Friday undergoing tests with an Irvine neuropsychologist, who, among other things, checked Wilson's hand-eye coordination, his reactions, his memory and his recall ability.

"They didn't find anything in my head," Wilson said. "Just a hamster chasing a peanut."

Wilson, who is on the 15-day disabled list, was cleared by team doctors and trainers to fly, and he joined the Angels on Monday in Boston. He said the ankle "is close to 100% now," which was very encouraging considering doctors thought, after taking initial X-rays, that Wilson had suffered a fracture.

Wilson has been throwing, he'll begin hitting Tuesday and catching in the bullpen Wednesday or Thursday.

"If all goes well," he said, "I could begin a [minor league] rehabilitation assignment by this weekend or early next week."

Famine, now feast

Mike Napoli, who started only four of the team's first 14 games, was so frustrated by his lack of playing time in the second week of April that he marched into Scioscia's office seeking an explanation.

Then starting catcher Jeff Mathis broke a bone in his right wrist April 19, Wilson was injured four days later, and Napoli has started 11 of the last 13 games, a heavy workload that could be contributing to his offensive struggles.

Napoli, who hit 20 home runs in each of the last two seasons, is batting .192 with no homers and two RBIs.

"When you catch every day in the big leagues, you better believe it affects your hitting," said Scioscia, a former Dodgers catcher. "It's a grueling defensive position. At times you're going to be tired, you're going to feel stiff, sometimes you're going to feel good.

"You go through the whole spectrum of how your body reacts to playing every day. But I don't see anything out of the norm that would be affecting him."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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