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Angels FYI

Angels' Howie Kendrick doesn't want to mess with a good thing

Howie Kendrick began Saturday batting .325, fifth in AL, in part because he's been going to the opposite field. But Angels would like him to use the whole field.

June 22, 2013|By Kevin Baxter

Get Adobe Flash player Howie Kendrick isn't superstitious. Or even particularly modest.

But he knows better than to mess with success, so don't bother asking about his hitting.

"I don't want to talk about it," Kendrick says.

Too bad, because there's a lot to talk about. Kendrick's .325 batting average and 92 hits before Saturday ranked fifth in the American League. And though much of that success stems from the fact that 23 of Kendrick's hit have gone to right field, the Angels would like to see him use the whole field more often.

"Sometimes it's too much because at times he'll go the other way so much he'll start maybe dragging his bat or pushing it over there," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Hitting coach Jim Eppard said that last season and in 2011, Kendrick "went that way a lot, to the point where you're taking inside pitches that you should hit out of the park and . . . you jam yourself into right field. So the goal is to equalize the spray chart out and get him to pull the ball a little bit more."

Toward that end, Eppard said he's been doing pregame drills that encourage Kendrick to pull the ball. But he's not pushing the idea right now, with Kendrick hitting a league-best .403 this month.

"I haven't said too much to him other than 'hi, how you doing?'" Eppard said before Saturday's game. "Now if it starts to go south on him a little bit, that will be the first thing I go to."

Kendrick doubled in his second at-bat Saturday night . . . to right-center.

Top pick agrees to deal

The Angels reached agreement on a $942,000 deal with left-hander Hunter Green, the team's top pick in this month's draft.

Green, 17, was on the field at Angel Stadium before the game against Pittsburgh and is expected to report to the team's training complex in Arizona this week. , He had 110 strikeouts and an 0.14 earned-run average in 51 innings at Warren East High in Bowling Green, Ky., this spring.

The Angels, who did not have a first-round pick, took him with the 59th selection near the end of the second round. In addition to the money — which matches the value the commissioner's office has assigned to that slot in the draft — Green is also guaranteed an invitation to big league spring training.

A slender 6 feet 4 and 180 pounds, Green has a fastball that touches 95 and is developing a curveball and changeup scouts believe could become plus pitches.

Small talk

Josh Hamilton met this weekend with Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle, the hitting coach in Texas in 2010 when Hamilton batted a career-high .359 and was the AL's most valuable player.

But, both men said, they didn't discuss hitting

"We didn't talk about baseball. We just talked strictly about family," Hamilton said.

Maybe. But how to break Hamilton out of the worst slump of his career has long been a topic of conversation around the Angels, so why not ask Hurdle?

Hamilton, a career .295 hitter, is batting .207 with 76 strikeouts in 71 games this season. He took a cortisone shot in his right wrist Friday, which will keep him from swinging a bat until Tuesday, and the down time will give him a mental break he plans to fill by watching what he called "pump-me-up videos" of his greatest hits

"Sometimes that's what you need to look at. Sometimes you get too technical when things might not be technical," he said. "The routine's feeling a lot better."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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