Reporting from St. Louis -- They are hitting a combined .111, with no home runs and seven runs batted in 72 at-bats.
Not that you'd ever know it talking to the Angels' starting pitchers about hitting in interleague play.
"We all think we have mad pop, we all think we can go yard and stuff like that, so there's a lot of trash talking," Joe Saunders said.
Then the games start and the joke is usually on them.
Ervin Santana has the highest batting average in interleague play among the Angels' starters, and he's hitting .133. Jered Weaver is hitting .083 and Saunders is still searching for his first hit, though he's had only three at-bats.
The consensus is that Joel Pineiro is the best-hitting starter on the staff, in part because he spent nearly 2½ years practicing the craft in the National League with St. Louis. His career batting average? A paltry .106.
"I have the experience. I'm definitely the best," Pineiro deadpanned a day before facing his former team Friday at Busch Stadium. "And I look good doing it. Not that I do something with it, but if you look good doing it you're all right."
Pineiro saw all of two pitches in his one at-bat Friday, grounding out to first baseman Albert Pujols on a sinker from Brad Penny. Pineiro wasn't as fortunate against Penny, serving up a slider that Penny crushed over the left-field wall for a grand slam.
The Angels pitchers typically get only a handful of at-bats a season — if that — so it's tough for them to do much besides advance runners with sacrifice bunts. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
"The timing is hard and when you're not used to seeing something that fast, it's almost like a blur," Saunders said. "When you see a 90-mph sinker and you try to hit it, you're going to look like a dummy."
A matter of timing
Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said Brandon Wood's struggles in his first extended stay in the major leagues are more attributable to timing issues than the mechanics of his swing.
"A lot of times I think he's getting beat on fastballs and he's out front on curveballs," Hatcher said. "He's caught in between. If we eliminate that, that's when good things will happen with him."
Hatcher said Wood's timing should improve as he gets more at-bats. The third baseman was back in the lineup Friday after getting a day off and went 0 for 4 to lower his average to .157. He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.
Wood has worked extensively with Hatcher, who said he was trying to build the young slugger's confidence.
"I'm just trying to create a good feel with him and a good swing and take it to the next level," Hatcher said. "We have to get it working in the game."
Maicer Izturis was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but Manager Mike Scioscia said the utility infielder won't return until next week at the earliest. Izturis is extending his throws as he continues his recovery from the inflammation in his right shoulder that has sidelined him the last few weeks.
He is not expected to need a rehabilitation assignment before rejoining the Angels.
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