06/13/12 9:51 PM ET
Hunter thriving in second spot for Angels
By Joe McIntyre / MLB.com
Over the last five games, Hunter is leading the league with a .500 average (12-for-24). He has nine RBIs, three home runs and a double during that span. The only other batter with more hits than Hunter is the Braves' Michael Bourn, who has 14 hits in seven games.
In each of those five games, Hunter has been batting from the second spot, the only games he has hit from that position all season. And it's a spot he feels comfortable in.
"These guys are trying to get after me early, not thinking about walking me or anything," Hunter said. "They don't want to get to Albert [Pujols], and they're really focused on [Mike] Trout on the bases."
Before this five-game stretch, Hunter had been hitting .238 with 16 RBIs and six home runs. In just five games, he has raised his average to .275.
With two of the league's hottest hitters in front of him (Trout) and behind him (Pujols), Hunter said he's getting a lot better pitches to hit. He's seeing more fastballs, and even when he does see a breaking ball, it's often thrown for a strike, especially if Trout is on base.
"If you've got somebody like Mike Trout at the top of the lineup, he's getting on base, he has a lot of speed," Hunter said. "You've got a guy like Albert Pujols, who has that name, hitting behind me. I've never had a guy of that caliber hitting behind me. I'm always hitting behind the guy trying to protect that guy. So yeah, it helps out a lot."
Manager Mike Scioscia said he doesn't see Hunter hitting in the two-hole as strictly a lineup for when the Angels play in National League stadiums, either. When the Angels return home, with Hunter second and Kendrys Morales back in the game as the designated hitter, it's a deeper lineup than they had before they went on the road.
"I think if you look at it from just an analytical viewpoint, it doesn't make as much sense as it's turned out to be," Scioscia said. "But Torii is multi-dimensional. He runs well enough to be there. He certainly brings an element of power. He understands the situational hitting component. It's definitely a threat and gives you a presence in the No. 2 hole."
Downs feels better but still likely unavailable
LOS ANGELES -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said reliever Scott Downs, who is dealing with tightness in his side, was doubtful to get into Wednesday night's series finale against the Dodgers.
"He's feeling a little better, but we'll most likely stay away from him again," Scioscia said.
Downs, who has a 0.42 ERA in 24 appearances this season, hasn't pitched since Sunday against the Rockies. He tossed one inning in the game, giving up one run and a season-high three hits.
The lefty hasn't had any tests, however, and is planning on going through a pregame routine and assessing his status from there.
Catcher Chris Iannetta, who has been out since May 8 recovering from right wrist surgery, is going to be re-evaluated in a few days before the team decides if he's ready to play again.
Iannetta injured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch on May 2 against the Twins, the night he caught Jered Weaver's no-hitter, and caught only three games after that before having surgery.
"He feels a lot better, but once he can go out there and throw without any discomfort at all, he'll go out and play," Scioscia said. "So hopefully not too far away."
Halos agree to terms with 14 more Draft picks
LOS ANGELES -- The Angels announced Wednesday they have agreed to terms with 14 more picks from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft class.
So far, the team has agreed to terms with 25 of its 38 picks in the Draft.
The top signee announced was second baseman Alex Yarbrough, the Angels' fourth-round pick. The switch-hitter from Allen, Texas, led Ole Miss in batting as a junior this season with a .380 average. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound infielder played in all 62 of the Rebels' games. He had 17 doubles, three triples and three home runs with 43 RBIs.
Other signees include: right-hander Austin Adams (eighth round); left fielder Jonathan Walsh (11th); right-hander Reid Scoggins (15th); third baseman Ryan Dalton (18th); right-hander Aaron Newcomb (19th); third baseman Michael Snyder (23rd); right-hander Garrett Bush (24th); center fielder Kyle Johnson (25th); first baseman Wade Hinkle (27th); right-hander Robert Powell (32nd); catcher Samuel Mulroy (33rd); right-hander Matthew Collins (37th); and right-hander Jake Boyd (38th).
The Angels had previously signed right-hander R.J. Alvarez, their first pick (third round); right-hander Mark Sappington (fifth); shortstop Eric Stamets (sixth); catcher Andrew Patterson (seventh); catcher Zachary Wright (12th); center fielder Quintin Davis (20th); right-hander Pat Lowery (21st); center fielder Joel Capote (28th); catcher Zachary Livingston (34th); catcher Pedro Pizarro (35th); and right-hander Kenny Hatcher (36th).
The top Angels pick remaining unsigned is ninth-round selection Michael Roth, a left-handed pitcher from the University of South Carolina.
Members of the Los Angeles Kings were in attendance for Wednesday night's game against the Dodgers, and they brought the Stanley Cup with them. On Monday, the Kings wrapped up their first Stanley Cup championship with a 6-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.
On Friday, when the D-backs come to town to open a three-game series, the Angels will be teaming up with the Anaheim Firefighters Association to host the second annual Angel Stadium "Fill the Boot" fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) of Orange County and Riverside County.
The Angels Wives and firefighters will be asking fans to "fill their boots" with donations to help fund the MDA children's clinic at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, as well as the ALS Center at UC Irvine. Donations collected during this year's campaign will fund research to help find a cure for 43 neuromuscular diseases. The effort also supports Major League Baseball's "4♦ALS" initiative to raise awareness and support for the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
"Fill the Boot" will run from 5 p.m. PT through the second inning and take place outside the Home Plate Gate, Gates 1, 4 and 6 and outside the Diamond Club.
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.