06/11/11 9:50 PM ET
Halos look to veterans to right the ship
By Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
That quote -- courtesy of Torii Hunter -- was slapped on the bulletin board outside of the Angels' clubhouse on Saturday.
The Halos' situation has been a continued search for run production. Before Saturday they had lost six straight games and eight out of nine, scoring three runs or fewer in each of those nine games. Veteran outfielders Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Bobby Abreu met with manager Mike Scioscia prior to the team's batting practice to discuss what needed to be done to conclude that search.
Hunter, Wells, and Abreu were set to bat in the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 spots against Kansas City on Saturday night. All three are hitting below their career batting averages and are well short of their respective career home run paces.
"No one of those guys are going to carry us, but as a whole that's a good middle of the lineup and we need those guys to just do what they can do," Scioscia said. "Those guys are really trying hard and sometimes trying so hard that it's counter-productive."
Hunter, a career .273 hitter, was batting just .238 and has grounded into 17 double plays, which is tied for the most in the Majors. He hasn't hit below .250 since he was a rookie with the Twins over a decade ago.
The 37-year-old Abreu has struggled the least of the trio. His .289 average was only seven points down from his career mark, though his power numbers have declined dramatically. Abreu has only two home runs and is on pace to hit his fewest since he played 59 games for the Astros in 1999.
With a .179 average and four home runs in 38 games, Wells has been battling through both a career-worst start and injury in his first season with the Angels.
But Scioscia isn't looking for an MVP-type performance from any of those players. He thinks just a little bit from each can go a long way in solving the Angels' offensive woes.
"You just want them to do what they can do and not worry about every situation being life and death, and trying to carry us," he said. "They just need to square some balls up with some guys in scoring position. If they're not getting pitches to hit, pass the [bat] to the next guy."
Hunter: Players have to get it done
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' lack of offense has been cause for plenty of frustration in recent weeks.
But maybe no one -- not owner Arte Moreno, general manager Tony Reagins, or even Halos fans -- is more frustrated than the coaching staff, manager Mike Scioscia said. That includes hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.
"As far as Mickey being frustrated, he's no more, no less than our whole staff," Scioscia said. "No matter how high anyone's expectations are, whether it's Tony or Arte or any of our fans, ours are higher."
Scioscia said Hatcher is equally as diligent during a rough stretch -- like the Angels' six-game losing streak -- as he is when the team's lineup is in complete synergy. Right fielder Torii Hunter also attested to that sentiment.
"He [Hatcher] works hard if we're winning 10 straight games," Hunter said.
Veteran players sometimes have less to gain from sessions with a hitting coach, because as Hunter said, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Still, Hatcher has been working tirelessly with the Halos' youth, as well as the team's more experienced players as they try to snap out of slumps.
Regardless of how much work one puts in with Hatcher or any other coach, it's up to one person once the hitter is in the batter's box.
"At the end of the day you have to understand that us players are at the plate," Hunter said. "You can work with him all day but once you get to the plate it's up to you."
Pitchers focusing on not overcompensating
ANAHEIM -- Amid the Angels' offensive struggles, it can be easy to forget about the club's pitching staff.
One shouldn't though. This group has been good -- very good.
The Halos' starting rotation entered Saturday ranked second and third in the American League with a combined 424 2/3 innings pitched and a 3.41 ERA, respectively. That hadn't been enough to keep the team from falling five games under .500, though.
"There's no doubt that we've seen some stretches where our pitchers have tried to strike a guy out on a 1-0 count because they know that we're not scoring, and they're pitching with their backs against the wall," manager Mike Scioscia said.
But overall, Scioscia said, the Angels' pitchers have done a good job of not trying to do too much. "I think they know that all they can do is make their pitches," he said.
Scioscia specifically alluded to staff ace Jered Weaver's most recent start against Tampa Bay on Wednesday. He gave up just three runs over 7 2/3 innings and the Angels were scoreless through seven. But Weaver "kept battling" and the Angels posted a three-run eighth inning to tie the game.
"That's the mindset that you have to have," Scioscia said. "You're not going to go out there and shut out every team and hopefully we're going to score one run -- that's just not the way you go out and pitch."
Though they eventually lost 4-3 in 10 innings, that's the type of resolve that Halos pitchers must continue to demonstrate until the offense snaps out of its funk.
"You go out and pitch your game -- you do pitch in situations -- but also you have to resist that urge to be so perfect when we're not scoring runs," Scioscia said.
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.