07/19/09 4:20 PM ET
Offensive options abound for Angels
Scioscia calls creating daily lineup 'a nice challenge'
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
First baseman Kendry Morales has batted .367 during that stretch, lifting his season average to .293. Only five American League hitters came into Sunday with more extra-base hits than Morales, who has 24 doubles and two triples to go with his 17 home runs, tying injured Torii Hunter for the team lead.
In Morales' spot against A's lefty Brett Anderson, Scioscia inserted Brandon Wood, one of the most promising young hitters in the game. Wood carried a .467 slugging percentage into his sixth appearance of the season, after slugging .592 at Triple-A Salt Lake.
With Howard Kendrick at second base and sizzling Erick Aybar -- coming off a four-RBI game that would have been six if not for a catch at the wall on Saturday -- at shortstop, Maicer Izturis took his .305 bat to the bench.
"It's a nice challenge," Scioscia said when asked about how difficult it is to decide who not to play with so many options. "There have been times -- especially on the offensive end -- when we've not been in sync, to try to find continuity with four or five guys searching.
"Right now, we have depth on the offensive end. Izzy, Juan [Rivera] and Kendry aren't playing, but we like what we're putting out there."
With Rivera unavailable, Mike Napoli assumed the cleanup spot and designated-hitter role, with Jeff Mathis behind the plate. Rivera aggravated a leg ailment during Saturday's game, leaving with tightness in his right leg. Since June 1, he ranks second in the AL with 34 RBIs and 84 total bases.
The Angels also are without their usual 3-4 hitters, Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. They're on the disabled list and aren't expected back until the end of the month or early August.
The Halos lead the Majors with their .284 team batting average, with eight regulars at .280 or better. The team is batting .296 with runners in scoring position, second in the big leagues.
Nobody is any hotter right now than Aybar, the acrobatic shortstop. He's hitting .567 during an eight-game hitting streak and is at .467 with 11 RBIs and eight runs scored in 11 starts this month.
Izturis almost is as hot as Aybar, batting .361 with eight extra-base hits in his past 18 games.
"We basically have three regulars for two positions," Scioscia said, referring to Aybar, Izturis and Kendrick in the middle of the infield. "We're fortunate to have that kind of talent at those key spots."
Wood, a natural shortstop converted to third and first, and Chone Figgins also are available in the middle infield.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.