Angels back to leading with Kole-Trout-Pujols
ANAHEIM -- The Angels are going back to stacking the top of their lineup with their best hitters -- batting Kole Calhoun leadoff, Mike Trout second and Albert Pujols third -- at least for the time being.
"I think the options we have to set the table don't outweigh what we have with Kole leading off," manager Mike Scioscia said on Saturday. "So we're gonna go with Kole leading off and Mike second and Albert third, like we did, and just try to get our lineup top heavy and see if we can't do some better things than we've shown for most of this month."
For most of 2014, and the early part of this season, Calhoun-Trout-Pujols had been the top of the Angels' order, but a little more than two months ago, with the team struggling to score runs, the Angels shifted Calhoun to the second spot, Trout to third and Pujols to fourth.
It's been that way since mid-June. On Saturday night against the Blue Jays at Angel Stadium, though, Calhoun was back leading off, Trout was in the two-hole, and Pujols was third.
In June, the Angels' choice to shift their best three hitters back one spot each in the batting order was to try to maximize the number of times they came up with run-scoring opportunities, as opposed to their number of at-bats per game. That's the trade-off in lineup construction, although recent data has suggested that variations in a team's batting order have minimal impact on run creation. Even an optimized lineup would add, at most, a few runs over the course of a season.
But with the Angels' offense scuffling again recently -- especially with runners in scoring position -- Scioscia talked to the team's offensive personnel, including hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen, and the team decided to revert to their previous lineup.
"To be honest with you, I don't think the configuration's going to have as much to do with it if we break out of this as guys just swinging the bats better," Scioscia said. "But with that being said, we've been giving up a lot of outs with guys not being able to set the table like we need to. So we're gonna try to get a little more condensed up top."
• Johnny Giavotella was still sick on Saturday, and was seeing a doctor, Scioscia said. Scioscia couldn't report the details of Giavotella's condition, but he said the Angels are still considering the second baseman's status as day to day.
With Giavotella out, the Angels were forced to option right-hander Nick Tropeano, who started in Matt Shoemaker's spot on Thursday, to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. The team needs another fifth starter on Aug. 29, but because Tropeano was optioned, the Angels can't recall him for 10 days -- unless someone goes on the disabled list. Shoemaker was starting for Salt Lake on Saturday, so he could be recalled to start on Aug. 29.
• Infielder Taylor Featherston (back strain) will join Salt Lake on Sunday to begin a rehab assignment, Scioscia said. Featherston's back has improved over the last few days.
Third baseman David Freese (fractured right index finger) will also begin a rehab assignment with Salt Lake on Sunday. Freese will likely start at designated hitter at first, then begin playing third base as his finger improves.
Outfielders Collin Cowgill (sprained right wrist) and Matt Joyce (concussion/lower back tightness) are already on rehab assignments with the Bees. Scioscia said Cowgill has been doing very well, and Joyce has been coming along after his back flared up several days ago. Joyce and Cowgill might not be recalled to the Major League team before rosters expand Sept. 1.