08/21/12 7:58 PM ET
Hunter has flourished since move to two-hole
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
Hunter took over as the Angels' No. 2 hitter on June 8 in Colorado. Since then, he's raised his average from .238 to .299 in 61 games entering Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"I cut down my swing as far as swinging hard and trying to go deep like I usually do," Hunter said. "I cut my swing down and try to swing at strikes and take the base hit, and that's why I'm swinging a lot better."
Hunter has been a force at the plate in the second half and is hitting .353, good for sixth in the American League among players with at least 50 plate appearances.
"I'm older -- with a little more wisdom -- and just swinging at my pitches, waiting for my pitch and the pitches that I can handle, and that's what's been going on," the veteran said.
While Hunter's power numbers are down this year (12 homers, 16 doubles), he's hitting for average and setting the table for slugger Albert Pujols and the heart of the Angels' lineup.
"All I'm doing is taking base hits and trying to get on base for the guy behind me -- which is Albert Pujols -- and that's my job," Hunter said. "I'm bunting more and doing a lot of things different this year."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks the top of the lineup is well suited for Hunter.
"When he was moved into the No. 2 hole it made him blossom and show some of the things he can do," Scioscia said. "He's a situational hitter, he's not just a home run hitter, he's not just a guy that can hit in the middle of the lineup. He's a situational guy, and I think that's the baseball he grew up on when he was a young player coming up.
"He has the ability to hit and run, get bunts down, and I think it's been fun for him in the No. 2 hole to be able to do all those things."
Trout pumped to play in Fenway for first time
BOSTON -- Angels outfielder Mike Trout had been waiting to play at Fenway Park all season. The chance finally came on Tuesday in the series opener against the Red Sox.
"This was definitely on my list of stadiums I wanted to play in," Trout said. "Growing up as a kid watching it on TV, it's pretty neat. I know the history here, and playing with the Green Monster in left -- it's going to be fun."
Trout never made the trek to the 100-year-old ballpark when he was growing up in New Jersey. He plans on signing his name inside the Green Monster at some point during the three-game series.
"I'll probably take a walk out there tomorrow and check it out," Trout said on Tuesday.
Tuesday's game was also the first between the Angels and Red Sox this year. Trout took the opportunity before the game to catch up with Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The two played on the same Arizona Fall League team in 2011.
"He was my neighbor. We spent every day at each other's house, just playing video games, passing time," Middlebrooks said. "We'd ride to the field together. Good guy."
Trout, though, won't get to play against his fellow rookie. Middlebrooks is out for the season with a broken right wrist. He was hitting .288 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs before he was struck in the wrist by a 96-mph fastball on Aug. 10 against Cleveland.
"It kind of sucks that he got hit," Trout said. "It's baseball, though, and you're going to get hurt; the name of the game is staying healthy."
Middlebrooks counts Trout among his best friends in the Majors, and has been impressed by his play. Trout entered Tuesday's game with an American League-best .343 average, 24 homers, 70 RBIs and 39 stolen bases.
"He's awesome," Middlebrooks said. "He's one of the best athletes I've ever seen, and he's 21."
Scioscia has fond memories of Pesky
BOSTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia always discussed baseball strategy with Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky when the Angels came to Fenway Park. Scioscia no longer has that opportunity.
Pesky died last Monday at the age of 92. He spent 61 years with the Red Sox organization as a player, manager, coach, broadcaster and executive. The Red Sox honored him before Tuesday's series opener.
Scioscia first met Pesky in 2000, during his debut season as Angels manager.
"I was introduced to him and we talked every time I came to town here for a long time," Scioscia said. "He's a special guy."
Pesky was beloved by Red Sox fans ever since his debut as a shortstop in 1942. He hit .331 as a rookie, and finished third in the Most Valuable Player Award voting. The next year, Pesky served in the Navy during World War II. He spent the final 44 years of his life as a Red Sox employee, and was a part of their inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1995.
"He's a player from a special era in baseball, and not only was he a terrific player, but just a true gentleman and a really nice man," Scioscia said. "It was great to talk to him, and he always had unique insights that you could draw from."
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.