BOSTON -- These days, it's rare to see Howie Kendrick not hit the ball hard.
The Angels' second baseman has been on a tear lately -- the type that made manager Mike Scioscia comfortable putting him in the No. 5 spot to allow Josh Hamilton to bat second. In his prior 16 at-bats heading into Sunday's series finale from Fenway Park, Kendrick had 12 hits. And since May 14, he was batting a Major League-leading .416, with 13 multi-hit games in 23 contests to raise his batting average by 53 points.
Kendrick had homered only once in his prior 17 games, but he had already matched last year's total of eight. His .328 batting average was the highest it's been through the first 62 games of a season since 2008 (.329).
"I just play, man, to be honest with you," said Kendrick, who compiled a .284/.325/.423 slash line as an everyday player the last three years. "Just as easy as they can be really good, they can be on the other side, too. You enjoy it while you're doing it and hope it continues. Honestly, I've been trying to go out and just keep playing hard, trying to help the team win."
Hamilton welcomes opportunity to hit second
BOSTON -- The last time Josh Hamilton batted second was six years ago, as a rookie with the Reds, fresh off climbing out of the harrowing drug-and-alcohol addiction that jeopardized his career and unsure if this whole Major League Baseball thing would work out.
A few days ago, Mike Scioscia informed Hamilton he'd be going back there, sandwiched between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols simply to, as the Angels' skipper put it, "get into a different neighborhood."
"I thought it would be fun," said Hamilton, who hit second on six occasions and led off 26 times in 2007. "I always loved hitting in the first inning. It doesn't matter where."
Hamilton's return to the No. 2 spot of the order came during Saturday's split doubleheader at Fenway Park. He had only two hits -- both of them doubles -- in nine at-bats, walking once and striking out another, but he hit two balls hard to the outfield and was playfully taken aback when asked about having "a couple" of nice at-bats.
"Dear God, I had nice at-bats both games," he said, smiling. "OK, my result was good a couple times -- but I hit the ball hard a lot."
Hamilton, homerless in his last 11 games and riding a .216/.278/.385 slash line, was moved up three spots in hopes that he can finally find the groove that has eluded him all year. Hitting between Trout and Pujols can be comforting for a guy who has seen the lowest percentage of fastballs this year (42.7).
"It's exciting, to step between Trout and Pujols," Hamilton said. "Not a bad place to be. I like it."
Will it change the way pitchers attack him, allowing him to see more strikes?
"No," Hamilton said, laughing at the thought that pitchers would approach him differently simply because of who surrounds him in a lineup.
What about seeing some more fastballs with Trout on base as a threat to steal?
"Where are they going to be?" Hamilton said, indicating that they'll still be off the plate. "Why does it matter where you get them if they're not gonna be strikes?
So, is there any benefit at all?
"Maybe they just get a little more distracted, the pitcher, so they might be more apt to making that mistake," Hamilton said. "But the pitcher has a plan for you no matter who's behind you or who's in front of you. Now, like I said, when Trout gets on base, it might make [the opposing pitcher] make a mistake. They might try to throw a changeup, leave it up, throw a heater and pull it across the middle, whatever the case may be, because he's trying to hurry."
Bourjos to return Monday, likely won't bat leadoff
BOSTON -- Peter Bourjos got a couple of plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday afternoon and will be activated off the disabled list for Monday's series opener in Baltimore.
When he returns, it probably won't be to the leadoff spot.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia tweaked the lineup on Saturday, putting Mike Trout back at the leadoff spot in order to make Josh Hamilton his new No. 2 hitter. And Scioscia would like to keep it that way for the time being, which means Bourjos -- sporting a .370 on-base percentage before straining his left hamstring on April 29 -- will join Erick Aybar in the bottom of the order.
"Right now, I think we definitely want to give Josh a chance to get settled in the two-hole and lead off Mike," Scioscia said. "If that keeps going, it keeps going. If we have to adjust, we will."
The corresponding move to clear up a spot for Bourjos will be announced Monday and could be an interesting one. The only bench player with options -- besides backup catcher Hank Conger -- is J.B. Shuck, who has played very well as an everyday left fielder while Bourjos has been out. Infielders Brendan Harris and Chris Nelson, along with recently called up outfielder/first baseman Brad Hawpe, all have to be slipped through waivers.
Bourjos, who served as the designated hitter on Sunday and left in the fifth inning, went 6-for-25 with a couple of homers in seven rehab games (four in Triple-A, three in Class A). Scioscia's reports say he's "running good" and the hamstring has been "no issue at all."
Williams gets Angels' start on Wednesday
BOSTON -- In need of a sixth starter because of Saturday's doubleheader, Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed the obvious after Sunday's game: Jerome Williams will return to the rotation to start Wednesday's game.
Williams was sent back to the bullpen earlier this week, the victim of a cruel numbers game despite posting a 2.14 ERA in his last five starts.
The Angels needed to pare their rotation from six to five, with Jered Weaver returning from the disabled list and Tommy Hanson being activated off the restricted list. But now they need an extra arm to get them into the Thursday off-day, and Williams always seemed like the obvious choice.
The 31-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 16 games (six starts) this season. Williams last pitched in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, giving up three runs in three innings. The outing is not expected to affect his length for Wednesday's series finale in Baltimore.
• The power went out at the Angels' hotel in Boston, The Westin Copley Place, at about 2:30 a.m. ET, leaving players without hot water or electricity throughout the morning. They were all booked on high floors, holding their luggage on getaway day with only one elevator running. But most of the them were nonetheless able to catch the first bus to Fenway Park at 9:30.
• Garrett Richards' Jered Weaver-like long hair is no more. After Saturday's split doubleheader, at about 12:30 a.m., he went to CVS/pharmacy, purchased a pair of scissors and got a haircut courtesy of his girlfriend. Scioscia was shocked when he saw him walk past the dugout on Sunday morning. "Have to go with the professional look," Richards told his manager. "It's getting hot."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.