CHICAGO — Mike Scioscia couldn't say for certain whether a 12-pitch at-bat that resulted in a third-inning single in the Angels' 9-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on June 12 is what sparked Erick Aybar's monthlong hot streak.
Nor could he rule it out.
"I guess you can rationalize and go back and say that's why this happened," the manager said. "There's nothing wrong with a 12-pitch at-bat. You can connect some of the dots. The quality of his at-bats has improved, no doubt about it. The last 75 at-bats, you're seeing a tough out from both sides of the plate."
Aybar was batting .257 before that game in Camden Yards, and in his first at-bat he worked the second-longest plate appearance of his career, which he capped with a single.
In the seventh inning, with the Angels trailing, 6-4, Aybar lined a three-run triple to right-center field to key a six-run inning. The shortstop hasn't cooled since.
In 25 games since June 12, Aybar is 33 for 96 (.344) with 13 multi-hit games and 20 runs batted in to push his average to .288. In the Angels' Wednesday night victory over the Chicago Cubs, he doubled to right field to spark a five-run first inning and singled during a six-run fifth.
"He's using the whole field," Scioscia said. "That's when he's at his best. You aren't seeing the roll-overs to second base."
Howie Kendrick gets a day to recharge
Howie Kendrick was not in the lineup for only the second time this season, the combination of a mini-slump and some general soreness sending the second baseman to the bench.
"It's nothing major, just some normal stuff," said Kendrick, who is three for 25 in his last six games, his average falling from .323 to .308. "I'll be back out there in Seattle Friday and plan to finish the first half strong."
Kendrick acknowledged a breather could help. He spoke to Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn about the benefits of days off on May 12 when Dunn, who was batting .137 at the time, sat out against the Angels.
Dunn hit three home runs and drove in six runs in his next three games against Minnesota.
"He was struggling, he had a day off, and the next thing you know he hit three bombs against the Twins," Kendrick said. "Sometimes a day off helps you get refreshed."
Tommy Hanson (forearm strain) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Wednesday in which he showed "no hesitation turning anything loose," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction."
Hanson could make a minor league start during the All-Star break, and he hopes to return the week after.
Jason Vargas was cleared by doctors to resume throwing Tuesday after having a blood clot removed from his left armpit in late June. Scioscia said it will take a week to 10 days for Vargas to progress from long toss to aggressive flat-ground work to a mound. The left-hander could return by the end of July.