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Angels' small infielders play big

Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis, all under 5 feet 9, are helping the team stay above water.

June 01, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, left, makes a throw to first base as second baseman Maicer Izturis looks on during a game against Oakland on May 24.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, left, makes a throw to first base as second… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Reporting from Kansas City, Mo. — They've been called baseball's jockey infield, which seems appropriate since first baseman Mark Trumbo is the only Angels infield regular taller than 5 feet 9.

But it seems appropriate in another way, too, since the diminutive trio of Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis is usually wielding the whip that makes the Angels' often-dysfunctional offense go.

In Wednesday's shutout loss in Kansas City, Aybar had three of the Angels' seven hits, lifting his average to .315. He also stole his 14th base, only to be stranded in scoring position twice.

"Those guys are the reason we even have our heads above water now," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Of the three, Izturis may be proving the most valuable — and certainly the most versatile — having committed one error despite splitting his 38 games among third base, shortstop and second base.

"We don't have a lot of size but we have heart, we have the ability to play this sport," the 5-8, 175-pound Izturis said. "There are a lot of big players who don't seem to care. They have size but it's nothing more than an appearance.

"We put out an effort, a greater effort than a lot of players no matter their size."

Medical report

Howie Kendrick, who went on the disabled list last month because of a right hamstring strain, is expected to be reactivated in time for the Angels' game Wednesday with the New York Yankees. Kendrick leads the Angels with a .322 batting average.

Kendrys Morales, who underwent a second surgery last week to clean out scar tissue and debris and have bone graft performed on his broken left ankle, had the protective splint removed and replaced by a hard cast. Morales is scheduled to be reevaluated by Dr. Thomas Clanton in Vail, Colo., next week.

Haren suffers a back injury

The Angels got a bit of a scare Wednesday when right-hander Dan Haren left the field after being felled by lower-back tightness during a bullpen session.

The right-hander, second in the American League in innings pitched (861/3) and fifth in earned-run average (2.29), walked gingerly into the trainers' room where he was examined by the Royals' team doctor. He is to be reevaluated Thursday and the Angels hope he will be able to make his next scheduled start Saturday.

"It kind of depends on how I wake up," Haren said. "Really time will tell."

Minor league manager resigns

Tom Gamboa, manager of the Angels' Class-A affiliate in San Bernardino, resigned Tuesday so he can spend more time with his 85-year-old mother, Polly Smith, who has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian, breast and lung cancer.

"We wish Tom well as he deals with some personal matters," Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said. "The Angels thank him for his service to the organization."

Gamboa, 63, was managing his eighth season in the minor leagues. His teams have finished first five times but the 66ers were third in their division in the California League when he stepped down. Hitting coach Damon Mashore will take over as manager.

Short hops

Aybar, at shortstop, and Izturis, at third, are the only Angels who rank among the top five at their position in preliminary voting for the AL All-Star team.

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