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ANGELS FYI

Angels' Bobby Abreu isn't worried about spring batting average

Veteran was hitting at a .115 clip but has regained his old form after working out last week with Angels batting coach Mickey Hatcher.

April 03, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu, who the Angels have tried to trade twice in the last two months, says it has been a tough spring for him.
Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu, who the Angels have tried to trade twice… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)

Don't pay attention to that ugly .115, Bobby Abreu said before batting second for the Angels on Tuesday night against the Dodgers in a Freeway Series game.

"It doesn't matter to me," Abreu said.

The Angels have to decide by Wednesday afternoon to keep two of the following players on their roster for Friday's opening-night game against the Kansas City Royals: Abreu, corner infielder Jorge Cantu or versatile and fast Alexi Amarista.

Abreu, 38, said Tuesday that it was a "difficult spring training," a "struggle" when "you don't know what's going to happen to you" and are "fighting for a spot."

Abreu has the advantage of being owed $9 million, and has strengthened his case, coaches say, by rediscovering his swing and batting approach that makes him a career .293 batter with a .397 on-base percentage.

Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said he and Abreu ventured to the Angels' minor league fields in Tempe, Ariz., last week to address the flaws in Abreu's swing. Hatcher said he was concerned that Abreu "might have been pressing himself" because of trade rumors and the fear of diminished plate appearances.

"Something clicked, it's like the old Bobby now," said Hatcher, who said Abreu was lining balls with backspin to left field and exercising better discretion at the plate. "We walked away and I could see it in his face. He repeated it the next two days in batting practice and has taken it into the last three games."

Manager Mike Scioscia said he's hopeful Abreu will "carry that into the season."

Said Abreu: "My body's good, my swing is good. That's all I worry about. I know myself very well by now. I'm ready."

Final spots

Cantu stood outside his locker eating an ice cream drumstick with the final roster decision still up in the air.

"I've been doing my part, I'm hoping for the best," said Cantu, who was batting .250 with nine runs batted in through Monday. "I've done a good job" hitting with runners in scoring position "and that's the role I'd be put in here. If I fit in, great. If not, life has to go on."

Scioscia wouldn't tip his hand, but praised Amarista's versatility. Amarista was batting .345 with 13 RBIs and six stolen bases.

"He can help you at six positions, that's a huge advantage to have," Scioscia said.

Reserve catcher Hank Conger played in more spring games than starter Chris Iannetta and backup Bobby Wilson, but the Angels are likely to move the 24-year-old Huntington Beach product to triple-A Salt Lake.

"My goal was to get better offensively and defensively, and I had a good spring training," said Conger, who had a .295 batting average in 18 games. "They gave me a good opportunity, and I know the things I need to work on. A consistent arm slot is one.

"I try not to think about [the roster reduction]. Obviously, it's a little antsy, but I'm relaxed right now."

Route 66 for Jerome Williams

The Angels will send expected No. 5 starter Jerome Williams to Class-A affiliate Inland Empire for starts Friday at Rancho Cucamonga and April 10 at Lake Elsinore in anticipation of his season debut, April 15 in New York.

"I could throw 90 pitches right now," said Williams, who suffered a strained hamstring early in spring training. "I just need to make sure I'm strong late in the game. It'll be fine. My arm's never been the problem, it was the hamstring."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com twitter.com/latimespugmire

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