05/18/10 8:07 PM ET
Angels lineup too crowded for Willits
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
The Angels are set with their outfield lineup of Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera, with Hideki Matsui at designated hitter. So there's not a spot to get Willits in the lineup on a regular basis, even though his game is suited for the top of the order.
"It's tough to look at other things," Scioscia said.
Scioscia remains confident in Aybar
ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia is keeping the faith in leadoff hitter Erick Aybar, despite a slump that has lasted more than a month now.
And the bottom line is there's really no other options for what has been a big hole at the top of the Angels' lineup, especially with Aybar batting .194 (21-for-106) since April 18.
"I still have confidence in him," Scioscia said. "His track record says he's going to do better than he's been doing lately.
"When you focus on the offense, it's a very prominent role, the No. 1 spot. He's won a lot of games for us with his defense."
Aybar batted a career-best .305 last season and had 18 bunt hits to lead the American League, so there's some reason to believe he can turn things around. Aybar hit .337 with 36 RBIs over the last 72 games in 2009.
Scioscia said Aybar has shown more confidence hitting from the right side, his weaker side (though he did bat .305 right-handed last year). His average is stuck at .214 and he has 20 strikeouts in 103 at-bats right-handed.
Aybar is batting .265 from the left side, which is well below the .325 average he had last season.
"He has not gotten his same game that we saw last year," Scioscia said. "That doesn't mean it's not going to happen."
Aybar's struggles magnify the absence of Maicer Izturis, on the disabled list since May 8 with right shoulder inflammation. Izturis threw for the first time on Monday and also ran the bases and took batting practice in the cage, but there's still no timetable on his return.
"[Aybar's struggles] shows the importance of a guy like Maicer Izturis," Scioscia said. "It gives you three options for those two spots with Aybar and [second baseman] Howie Kendrick."
Rodney, Jepsen get a break
ARLINGTON -- Relievers Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen, the Angels' primary setup men, haven't pitched since last Wednesday. That's not because they're slumping.
Jepsen leads the Major Leagues with nine holds, and Rodney has held opponents to a .164 batting average. So Angels manager Mike Scioscia just sees this as a break for both relievers.
"It's a good thing for those guys to peel back and get a chance to regroup and catch their breath," Scioscia said. "Their roles just haven't come up."
Scioscia did note that Rodney got up in the bullpen and threw twice during the Angels' weekend series against Oakland. Jepsen leads the Angels in appearances with 18, so the break is well deserved, Scioscia said.
The Angels have been outscored by 35 runs this season (199-164). ... Angels pitchers have given up five home runs in the last 10 games after allowing 39 in their first 30 games. ... Catcher Bobby Wilson was activated Monday, but Mike Napoli was back in the starting lineup for the second straight game Tuesday. Napoli had his third home run of the season in Monday's game and almost hit another in the top of the ninth that would have tied the game at 4.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.