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Injuries, struggles force Scioscia into platooning

SEATTLE -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia went into the season hoping to basically ride the same lineup all year.

An assortment of injuries and some individual struggles have turned it into a platoon, with Raul Ibanez, Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger mainly starting against righties and right-handed hitters C.J. Cron, Grant Green and Chris Iannetta starting against lefties -- like Tuesday starter Roenis Elias -- most of the time.

"There's no doubt we've had to mix and match as much as we ever have," Scioscia said. "I think we've found good offensive chemistry against both righties and lefties that has helped us to score runs and keep ourselves afloat. We need it to continue."

Scioscia has basically had a platoon behind the plate with Iannetta and the switch-hitting Conger since the early part of last season, but the left-handed-hitting Ibanez and Calhoun will have to get going before they start against lefties.

Ibanez entered Tuesday with a .156/.278/.279 slash line, while Calhoun is 1-for-15 since returning from a sprained right ankle.

Calhoun said his timing is "getting there," and took some positives from lining an up-the-middle single to break up Chris Young's no-hitter in the sixth inning on Monday. But he also admitted to still having "some growing pains" with the ankle and believes sitting him against lefties "is the smartest thing for this team right now," referencing how well Collin Cowgill and Green have hit.

"We've got a lot of weapons, and that's exciting," Calhoun said. "That's why the team was doing so good even with guys on the [disabled list]."

The one constant in Scioscia's lineup thus far has been Mike Trout batting second and Albert Pujols batting third. And for the last six games, Howie Kendrick -- with a career-high walk rate and a .303/.379/.415 slash line entering Tuesday -- has been his leadoff hitter.

Calhoun will probably return there when Josh Hamilton is activated, if he's productive again.

"When Kole's swinging like he can, the way he sees pitches, he has a lot of value there in the leadoff spot," Scioscia said. "And it allows Howie to hit in more of an RBI position."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
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