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Angels' Hank Conger and Peter Bourjos are finding the going a bit rough lately

The batting averages of the youngsters have gone south in May after fast starts in April.

May 30, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Although rookie catcher Hank Conger has struggled in May, he says, "It's not like I feel completely lost right now."
Although rookie catcher Hank Conger has struggled in May, he says, "It's… (Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire )

Reporting from Minneapolis — The American League appears to have caught up with rookie catcher Hank Conger and second-year center fielder Peter Bourjos.

After hitting a collective .291 and scoring 16 runs in April, they're hitting a combined .184 in May.

"You keep talking about adjustments and what pitchers are doing. And sometimes young players have a tendency to do one of two things," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Sometimes they don't react to adjustments. And sometimes they overreact … because they've gone 0 for 4."

Scioscia knows that because he experienced the same thing as a young player. After hitting .276 in his first full season, Scioscia's average plummeted 57 points the next year.

"For myself, on a personal [level], it was a situation of you do kind of overreact and try to reinvent yourself," he said.

The solution?

"Getting simple again," Scioscia said.

Scioscia talked to Conger about that Sunday morning, the day after the catcher popped out as a pinch-hitter with the go-ahead run at second base. That dropped Conger's average in May to .204 and left him with four hits in his last 11 games, a span of 34 at-bats.

"Hank has been fighting himself," Scioscia said. "We talked a little bit just on understanding [and] getting back to that simple approach. Clearing his mind a little bit."

Conger said the message he took from the meeting was to relax and let the talent that got him to the big leagues take over.

"The main thing reiterated was just go out and play. Don't try to think too much. Try not to do too much," Conger said.

"I kind of got out of my element when really I [have] to stick to what my strengths are. It's a long season. You have ups and downs and it's a down month so far. But I feel like my at-bats are better. It's not like I feel completely lost right now."

Kazmir makes second rehab start

The clock continues to tick on Scott Kazmir, who is running out of time in his effort to correct the mechanical flaws that knocked him out of the Angels' rotation after one horrendous start.

The left-hander made his second minor league appearance for triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday night and gave up 10 runs in 2?1/3? innings. All of the runs came in the third inning.

Since minor league rehab stints are limited to 30 days, the Angels have until June 22 to decide whether to reactivate Kazmir or release him. Either way they are responsible for what remains of the $14.5 million left on his 2011 contract.

Passing Gehrig

Bobby Abreu's run-scoring double in the seventh inning was his 535th double, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig and moving the Angels outfielder into 32nd on the all-time list. Among active players only Colorado's Todd Helton (538) and Washington's Ivan Rodriguez (569) have more.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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