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Angels' offensive woes are multi-pronged

ANGELS FYI

They lead the American League in strikeouts and hitting into double plays, to go with a .227 batting average with runners in scoring position.

May 04, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Boston — The Angels' offensive woes this season go beyond the .227 batting average with runners in scoring position they took into Wednesday's rain-plagued game with the Boston Red Sox.

They also started the game having struck out more often and hit into more double plays than any team in the American League. And that has made finding a solution more difficult.

"Every day we're just trying to figure out how to get it going," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. "We try to get guys into comfort zones. One week you're struggling to try to find it. And then in two weeks you're just playing the greatest baseball you ever could play.

"It's a roller-coaster."

The key to getting the roller-coaster climbing again may be Torii Hunter, the Angels' cleanup hitter who has hit into more double plays than anyone in baseball.

Lately, however, he has begun showing signs that his slump may be ending, having hit in five consecutive games before Wednesday and batting .423 in his previous seven starts.

"Over the last week you're starting to see Torii Hunter come back," Hatcher said. "He's really been swinging the bat good. Those are the things that I focus on. You can't do anything about what he's done. That's done.

"But you can do something about what's happening [going] forward."

Then there's Vernon Wells. Dropped to seventh in the lineup Wednesday for the first time since 2007, he got the Angels on the scoreboard with a mammoth two-run home run in the seventh.

Also among the missing is Kendrys Morales, who had hit .299 with runners in scoring position since 2008. But he hasn't played since breaking an ankle last May, and after suffering another setback in his rehab last week, the Angels have no idea when he'll play again.

"We're not going to worry about what we don't have," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have a talented group of guys that can score runs. We're definitely not going to sit back and think about what we could be. We are what we are.

"We're a better a team than we showed. And that's what we have to move forward with."

Fast learner

Center fielder Peter Bourjos has great speed, which helped him steal as many as 50 bases in one season in the minors. He hasn't been as successful in the majors, though, getting thrown out four times in his first seven stolen-base tries this season.

"It's a little different running on a major league combination with a pitcher-catcher as opposed to triple A," Scioscia said. "There's a learning curve."

Bourjos seemed particularly confused Tuesday by Boston left-hander Jon Lester, taking only a small lead and starting back to first base when Lester was delivering to the plate.

"There's more components" to base stealing, Scioscia said. "Right now, Peter has that speed component. He's working on learning pitchers and getting his jumps. That's something that's going to take a little bit of experience.

"No doubt he's got explosive speed that could lead to some eye-popping stolen base numbers once he gets comfortable."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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