6/22/2013 8:45 P.M. ET
Shuck stands ready in reserve role
By William Boor / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When outfielder J.B. Shuck made the Angels' Opening Day roster, he knew exactly what his role as a backup outfielder consisted of.
What he couldn't have know was that center fielder Peter Bourjos would strain a hamstring, essentially turning Shuck into an everyday outfielder.
Shuck started the majority of the Angels' games -- including a stretch where he started 20 of 21 -- during Bourjos' absence, but has started just five games -- including Saturday's contest against the Pirates -- in the two weeks since Bourjos returned.
"In the beginning of the year, this is where I was, it's no different." Shuck said. "Being a fourth or fifth outfielder, you know that when somebody goes down you are going to be asked to play, so you've got to be ready for it.
"Then when they come back, you know you're going to go back to your role and you have to be ready for late inning defense, pinch running and pinch hitting."
And Shuck certainly has been good at that.
Shuck is 5-for-10 when entering the game as a late-inning replacement and is 6-for-17 (.353) as a pinch-hitter.
While Shuck -- and any other professional athlete -- would prefer to play every day, he accepts and understands his role. The 26-year old has seen his playing time fluctuate throughout the first half of the season, but his preparation and approach has remained a constant.
"You show up to the field ready to play," Shuck said. "If you're in the lineup, you get ready early. If not, you still get into the game. You watch what the pitcher is doing, watch what's going on and then later on, when it starts getting a little bit later, you really start to focus on getting loose, getting ready to hit."
Angels' leadoff carousel continues
ANAHEIM -- Earlier in the week, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the team may platoon the leadoff spot for the the time being.
The Angels have had five players -- Erick Aybar, Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Alberto Callaspo and J.B. Shuck -- hit first this season, and after Aybar spent Thursday and Friday as the leadoff hitter, Scioscia gave the nod to Bourjos on Saturday.
"Right now, we're going to mix and match a little bit," Scioscia said. "Peter's definitely making a case to get more time as a leadoff hitter. He's doing a great job since he's come off the disabled list."
Since returning from the DL on June 10, Bourjos is hitting .385.
Saturday's start was Bourjos' 18th batting leadoff, but the center fielder has also begun 14 games as the ninth hitter, one as the seventh and one as the eighth.
Although Scioscia said it is preferable to have a set lineup, Bourjos has no preference.
"It doesn't matter," Bourjos said. "Going into the game, it's going to be the same approach. Obviously once the game starts, it's a normal game. It rolls over and you're hitting wherever you're hitting after that first at-bat."
While Scioscia has said several times he believes Trout will ultimately be a middle-of-the-order hitter, the manager did not rule out the 21-year-old returning to the leadoff spot.
"There's some things with our core group that we are waiting to see," Scioscia said. "When Josh Hamilton gets into his game, it's going to give us a lot more looks, which might put Mike back in the leadoff spot, we'll just see how it goes. We have some guys that are putting themselves as options at that position and that's good."
• Josh Hamilton played catch prior to Saturday's game and said he feels he is on target to return Tuesday.
The right fielder said he can swing the bat right now, but is not doing so over the next couple days simply to give his ailing right wrist a break.
• Ernesto Frieri has retired each of the last 22 batters he's faced -- 12 via strikeout -- over a span of eight outings.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.