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Angels try to spark Josh Hamilton with lineup move

Mike Scioscia puts the struggling slugger in the No. 2 batting slot, between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, in an effort to jump-start his bat.

June 08, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Josh Hamilton, shown after hitting a popup against the Houston Astros on May 31, has been moved in the Angels' lineup again in hopes of solving his batting woes.
Josh Hamilton, shown after hitting a popup against the Houston Astros on… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

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BOSTON -- In another effort to jump-start Josh Hamilton's lifeless bat, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia moved the struggling right fielder from the fifth to the second spot, between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, on Saturday.

The hope is that Hamilton, who is hitting .216 with eight home runs, 18 runs batted in and 63 strikeouts and has been particularly vulnerable to off-speed pitches, will see more fastballs with Trout on base.

Torii Hunter thrived in the second spot last season, batting .343 with nine home runs and 69 RBIs in 85 games after moving there in early June.

Hamilton, who hadn't hit second since 2007, went two for nine with two doubles, two runs and a walk in a doubleheader split.

"Right now, it's a good spot for Josh, to get him into a different neighborhood," Scioscia said. "We need Josh to get it going, and it might be something that can spark him."

A move from cleanup to fifth in late April did nothing to spark Hamilton, one of baseball's biggest disappointments since signing a five-year, $125-million deal in December.

Seeing different pitches wasn't so much the motive for Saturday's switch as it was "trying to bottle-shock some things to get Josh going," Scioscia said.

The switch forced Trout, who seemed to benefit from his move to the second spot April 11 — he's hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs — back to leadoff.

"There were some things working with Mike hitting second, particularly him getting a lot of RBI opportunities and doing a good job," Scioscia said. "Hopefully, we'll still be able to feed Mike with guys at the bottom of the lineup, but right now, for the benefit of our whole lineup, we have to adjust some things."

Walking a tightrope

Facing cleanup batter David Ortiz three times with two runners on base isn't usually a formula for success against the Red Sox, but it worked in Game 1 for Angels right-hander Tommy Hanson, who got into and out of trouble during his five-inning, two-run, seven-hit, four-strikeout, four-walk, 114-pitch effort.

"He was on the edge the whole game," Scioscia said, "but when he needed to make pitches, he did."

Hanson escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first inning by striking out Ortiz with a slow curve and getting Mike Napoli to ground to third base. He escaped a two-on, no-outs jam in the third inning by striking out Ortiz and Napoli with curves and getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to pop to third.

After Boston scored twice in the fourth, Hanson, with runners on first and third and two outs, got Ortiz to ground to first on a first-pitch slider.

"My mechanics and my pitches weren't coming easy to me," Hanson said. "I was fighting to have to make those pitches and hit my spots."

Short hops

The Angels caught a break in the sixth inning of the opener when, with two on and one out, and reliever Michael Kohn trying to protect a 3-2 lead, Dustin Pedroia hit a bullet to shortstop. But Erick Aybar fielded the ball on one hop and flipped to second to start a double play. … The Angels concluded the draft Saturday, selecting 21 pitchers and 18 position players, 35 college players and four high school players.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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