DETROIT — Mike Scioscia finally made the move that so many have called for, flip-flopping Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo in the fourth and fifth spots against an American League right-handed pitcher Tuesday night.
It marked the first time Trumbo batted cleanup against a right-hander with Morales in the same lineup. Trumbo, who has been hitting fourth against left-handers, hit cleanup against five right-handers in National League parks.
Trumbo has clearly earned the promotion. He leads the league with a .634 slugging percentage, ranks fourth with 26 home runs, is tied for third with 65 runs batted in and is tied for fourth with 44 extra-base hits. An All-Star, Trumbo has a .311 average and .361 on-base percentage.
Trumbo's 415-foot three-run home run to left-center field Tuesday night highlighted a four-run first inning in the Angels' 13-0 win over the Detroit Tigers, giving the outfielder six home runs in eight games.
But Scioscia gave the impression that the switch has as much to do with Morales' struggles as it does with Trumbo's emergence as one of baseball's best sluggers.
Morales, who returned this season after sitting out a year and a half because of a broken left ankle, is hitting .284 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs, far off the pace of his last full season, when he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs. His eighth-inning home run Tuesday night was only his second in 27 games.
"We all feel Kendrys is pressing a bit," Scioscia said. "He's not very comfortable in the box. He's not attacking the ball like he can. This will take some pressure off Kendrys, and we put a guy in there who is obviously a game changer."
With Trumbo now the full-time cleanup hitter, Scioscia won't be so quick to remove him for defensive purposes in the later innings of games in which the Angels hold narrow leads. Scioscia has been inserting Peter Bourjos in center field and moving center fielder Mike Trout to left in those situations.
"Hitting behind Albert Pujols impacts that decision," Scioscia said. "If you take Trumbo out, and say you remove Kendrys for a pinch-runner, you're really gutting your lineup. If something happens and they tie the game, you still want an offensive club out there. What impacts it more is that Mark is playing at a higher level defensively as the season has gone on."
Dan Haren, who gave up two runs and seven hits in five innings of a rehabilitation start for Class-A Inland Empire on Monday, traveled to Detroit on Tuesday and will throw a bullpen session Wednesday or Thursday. Haren, on the disabled list because of lower-back stiffness, is expected to start Saturday or Sunday against Texas. … Outfielder Vernon Wells, out since May 21 because of a torn ligament in his right thumb, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.