05/11/08 12:03 AM ET
Figgins placed on disabled list
Aybar starts at shortstop on Saturday despite hand contusion
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"He's making progress, just not enough to be ready for next week," manager Mike Scioscia said. The skipper said the move would help take the pressure off Figgins to continually test his strained right hamstring, allowing it to heal at its own pace.
"We want to establish depth, but you can't rush this thing," Scioscia added.
The Angels had been labeling Figgins as day-to-day since the injury occurred on April 11, and had been hopeful that a stint on the DL wouldn't be necessary.
The speedy leadoff man was hitting .306 with a .421 on-base percentage before experiencing pain while sliding into home in a game vs. Baltimore.
But with two straight shutout losses and a stalling offense, the Angels opted to make a move and add Morales, whom Scioscia said will serve primarily as another bat off the bench.
The infielder is hitting .297 in 30 games for Salt Lake, with a .469 slugging percentage. A switch-hitter, Morales has had several short stints in the Majors, including a stretch last season when he was called up on Aug. 1 and hit .294 in 43 games.
There was good news for the Angels on Saturday night as Erick Aybar started at shortstop less than 24 hours after he suffered a bone contusion on his left hand. Aybar reported full functionality of his hand, and even Scioscia was surprised how quickly he was able to bounce back from a hit by pitch suffered in Friday night's loss.
The skipper, who was worried about whether the infielder could squeeze his fielding glove without pain, said he had expected Aybar to be the designated hitter on Saturday.
"It didn't look good when he got hit," Scioscia said. "But the trainers did a great job keeping the swelling down."
Aybar's presence in the lineup is a needed boost for an Angels infield that is already missing Figgins at third and Howie Kendrick at second base. The shortstop entered Saturday's game with a .361 road average -- second in the American League -- and has been a defensive pillar for the Angels.
Although the team is struggling at the plate, Aybar had one of the Angels' three hits in Saturday night's loss, ripping a double in the third inning. The slugger was also robbed of a base hit by a stellar defensive play from Carlos Pena. Aybar saved a run of his own when he gunned out Rays speedster Jason Bartlett at the plate.
The club could also receive a defensive boost early next week, as infielder Maicer Izturis is slated to play five innings on Monday with Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Scioscia said Izturis, who was placed on the 15-day DL on May 1, retroactive to April 28, could return to the Angels as early as Tuesday.
The infielder, who has seen time at both second base and shortstop, had hit safely in seven of his past eight games before leaving the game against Detroit on April 26 with lower back spasms.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.