05/04/11 6:53 PM ET
Versatile Izturis Angels' early-season MVP
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"We'd like to have three Izzys," Scioscia said as a tarp covered Fenway Park's infield prior to Wednesday night's game. "We have one right now, and we want to build with him."
Scioscia had Izturis batting third for the first time this season, calling to mind a story the diminutive athlete told in 2009 as he was spending some time in that role with Torii Hunter sidelined.
"My brother [Cesar] called me and said, `You couldn't even bat third in the Chavez League in Venezuela,'" Izturis said. The reference was to a sandlot circuit in their native land bringing together old-timers and youngsters.
With five hits in eight at-bats in this series, Izturis has raised his average to .340. His .511 slugging mark is surpassed among teammates only by Howard Kendrick's .521.
The Angels are 10-10 with Izturis batting first. They're 4-1 with Peter Bourjos in that role and 2-3 with Erick Aybar, who drew the assignment against Josh Beckett with Scioscia trying to load the lineup with contact-hitting lefties.
In the No. 3 hole this season, the club is 11-9 with Bobby Abreu, 4-3 with Hunter and 1-2 with Kendrick.
"I hit the same wherever I am in the lineup," Izturis said. "Batting third, I might get more chances to drive in runs. I like that. I also like leading off and batting second. It doesn't matter where I bat as long as I'm in the lineup."
Izturis is a .322 career hitter with runners in scoring position, a category that has created frustration for the Angels this season. They're batting .227. Izturis is at .286.
Seeking spark, Scioscia unveils new lineup
BOSTON -- In his ongoing search for a lineup that clicks -- and one that can solve Red Sox pitching -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia came up with yet another look for Wednesday night's damp date with Josh Beckett at Fenway Park.
Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis formed a new top third, with Howard Kendrick moving to sixth to anchor the middle third behind Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo. Vernon Wells was dropped to seventh, followed by Hank Conger and Peter Bourjos.
"Obviously, some things aren't lining up that we're trying to get some chemistry with," Scioscia said. "With guys in scoring position, we have confidence in some guys that they're going to put the ball in play.
"Izzy hitting third is going to be a function of putting him behind Bobby and setting the table for a guy who's been swinging well. Alberto's been good from the left side. We're trying to get different dimensions to our lineup while we're waiting for Vernon to get into his game. Howie's been hot and cold. There are some things we have to be patient with and some things we have to change to try to give our pitchers a [better] chance."
The Angels are batting .227 with runners in scoring position after going 3-for-23 in losing the first two games of the series. Winless in six games against Boston, the Angels are 5-for-45 in those clutch situations.
Scioscia said he anticipated Wells, hitting a career-low .176 at this stage in the season, moving back up into the heart of the order when he gets rolling. Wells is showing signs with a homer and line-drive single in seven at-bats in the series.
The manager also knocked down the notion that Kendrys Morales' absence has left him hamstrung in the middle of the lineup.
"We're not going to worry about what we don't have," Scioscia said.
Pineiro plans to get deeper in second start
BOSTON -- In his first outing of the season against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Saturday, Joel Pineiro made it to 83 pitches in seven efficient innings without stressing his arm or the shoulder that had caused him to miss the season's first month. He hopes to stretch out to close to 100 deliveries in his projected start on Thursday against the Red Sox, weather permitting.
Yielding only one run on Matt Joyce's homer while not getting a decision, Pineiro was enthused that all four of his pitches -- fastball, slider, curve and changeup -- were behaving the way he wanted.
"It's not that often you have all four working," Pineiro said. "Hopefully that'll happen again in this one. I felt good throwing strikes against Tampa Bay. Everything was down in the zone -- except that one hit that [Joyce] hit out.
"It's no secret what I do. I can't throw 90 sinkers out of 100 pitches, but I'll throw my share and mix in my offspeed stuff. It's all a matter of execution. I'd like to get to 100 pitches, or close, this time. I think I can do that."
Manager Mike Scioscia said he thinks Pineiro can get in the range of 90-100 pitches.
"Joel had real good command, good sink," Scioscia said. "His stuff plays in any park. One thing that got lost last year was that he was having a terrific year when he got hurt [straining an oblique in late July]. He really pitched well for us."
Facing right-hander, Trumbo back on bench
BOSTON -- Despite launching homers on this road trip against two of the game's premier starters -- the Rays' David Price and Jon Lester of the Red Sox -- Mark Trumbo didn't find his name on Wednesday night's Angels lineup card.
Howard Kendrick was back at first base, replacing Trumbo, with switch-hitters Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo also in the infield against right-hander Josh Beckett. Manager Mike Scioscia said he wanted as many left-handed bats as possible against Beckett, given his team's struggles against righties this season.
"I think Mark has handled it very well," Scioscia said when asked about the progress of the young slugger. "He's made adjustments very quickly for a young player. We realized he was going to be high-risk, high-production. With experience, he's going to shrink some of the holes in most all of young hitters' swings."
Trumbo leads the team with 15 RBIs and has five homers, second to Kendrick with six. Trumbo is batting .253 overall -- .333 against lefties, .210 against righties. He has two homers and nine RBIs against righties in 62 at-bats and leads the club in hitting with runners in scoring position at .333.
"We're going to match up with Mark," Scioscia said. "He's going to get some at-bats."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.