8/14/2013 12:36 A.M. ET
Hamilton focused on finishing season strong
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Josh Hamilton's 2013 season has basically come down to acceptance.
His numbers will be way down when it's all said and done, no matter how well he hits in these last seven weeks. His batting average (82 points below what he averaged over the previous five seasons), on-base percentage (83 points) and slugging percentage (138) are all way down, and there isn't enough time for them to get much better.
"The biggest thing now is understanding that you cannot make up for a whole season in two months," Hamilton said. "So, don't try to do that, because it puts more pressure on yourself and causes you to try to do a little too much. So just prepare, like you do every day, and play."
Hamilton -- with a .223/.280/.411 slash line through 110 games entering Tuesday, with 17 homers and 56 RBIs -- has shown flashes of reverting back to the prolific slugger of his Texas days.
But there has been no sustainability.
He went 9-for-24 toward the end of April, then got five hits in his next 37 at-bats. He hit .372 during a 12-game stretch that seeped into July, then batted .183 over his next 17 contests. He entered Tuesday riding a three-game stretch in which he's notched five hits and a walk in 14 plate appearances, trying his best to find some sort of consistency.
"The last few games, I've felt better," Hamilton said. "I've had these spurts this year where I feel good for six, seven, eight, nine games, then back to the 'what happened?' feeling. In the past, I've never felt that before. Usually if I go through a slump, I'll bust out of it and stay out of it for a while. It's something new. It's been a growing process, I feel like, because I've never struggled like this in the game before."
Aybar exits against Yanks with left calf cramp
NEW YORK -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar came out of the game after two and a half innings at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday with a cramp in his left calf.
Jason Vargas caught Jayson Nix stealing in the bottom of the second, throwing to Mark Trumbo before the Angels' first baseman retired Nix at second base with a throw to Aybar. While applying the tag, though, Aybar was spiked by Nix in his lower left leg. He sat on the ground momentarily, sprung up, then was retired on a slow roller to CC Sabathia to end the top of the third and came out of the game.
Aybar entered Tuesday with a .283/.319/.381 slash line in 95 games this season. In place of Aybar, Tommy Field moved over to shortstop and Grant Green came in as the new second baseman.
Aybar was walking around fine after the Angels' 14-7 loss and said he thinks he'll be able to play on Wednesday.
Green working closely with infield coach Griffin
NEW YORK -- Grant Green has become Alfredo Griffin's newest project.
Griffin, the Angels' infield coach and a lifelong shortstop, has been working closely with Green since he was called up to the Majors on Aug. 6 -- one week after the Angels acquired him from the A's for third baseman Alberto Callaspo -- and plenty of work remains.
Green is most raw at third base, where he spent only 15 of his 481 career Minor League games. But for now, the focus is on second -- the position Green is most comfortable at and the one he'll man while Howie Kendrick is on the disabled list with a sprained left knee.
"He has some things to learn still," Griffin said. "He needs to position himself better with his feet on throws to get more on the ball. I think he turns double plays well. He's going to have to work on [his consistency with the double plays], but I think he's getting better. That's the hardest thing about second base in the big leagues."
Green, given the day off against lefty CC Sabathia on Tuesday, has gone 7-for-18 (.389) with three walks in his first six games with his new team. But the Angels figured he can hit; their biggest concern is finding the athletic, versatile 25-year-old a position they can be comfortable playing him at on an everyday basis.
Ideally, that would be third base. And once Kendrick returns from the disabled list -- he's eligible to be activated Aug. 21 and could be ready by then -- Green can continue to learn the hot corner, which he was starting to work with Omar Vizquel on when he first arrived at Triple-A Salt Lake.
"It's hard to get accustomed to third," Griffin said of Green, who has had 16 assists and no errors at second base thus far. "He hasn't played there, so he has to adjust there and it's going to take time. The hardest thing about third is how quickly the ball gets to you. It's a reactionary position, unlike second and shortstop."
Aybar serving as a run-producer for Angels
NEW YORK -- Erick Aybar sure doesn't look the part of a run-producer, at 5-foot-10, with a crouched stance, an innate ability to spray the ball to the opposite field and a career slugging percentage of only .386.
On a short-handed Angels lineup, though, that's basically what he is.
"Whether I'm hitting first, second, seventh, eighth, ninth, I try to do my job," Aybar said. "I don't put it in my head that I'm hitting fifth or anything like that. I forget that when I get to the plate. I just want to do the job."
With Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick out, Aybar has hit either fifth, sixth or seventh in every game this month, leaving the likes of J.B. Shuck, Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill to make up the top two spots in the lineup leading into Mike Trout.
Aybar was hitting .325 in 11 games this month entering Tuesday, putting his slash line at .283/.319/.381 for the season. He doesn't provide much power, but he's also a free swinger -- drawing only 18 walks in 397 plate appearances -- who can benefit from hitting in a spot where aggression is required.
"When you're hitting [in an RBI spot], you have to look for your pitch because you know they're not going to give you as much to hit," said Aybar, who entered Tuesday hitting .293 with runners in scoring position. "You have to be aggressive. When I'm hitting fifth, I look for my pitch and I'm aggressive."
Aybar came out of Tuesday's game against the Yankees after two and a half innings with a cramp in his left calf.
• Kendrick (sprained left knee) hit in the cage and did some agility drills on Tuesday. The Angels are hopeful that he'll be ready when he's first eligible to be activated from the disabled list (Aug. 21).
• Peter Bourjos wasn't activated on Tuesday, after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his fifth game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. "He's definitely within a number of days," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, adding that Bourjos needs more timing after missing about six weeks with a fractured right wrist. It appears the soonest he'll join the Angels is this weekend in Southern California.
• Tommy Hanson, optioned after Monday's game, will make his first start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday. That's the same day Jerome Williams is scheduled to start in the Majors, which would make it easy for Hanson to replace Williams in the rotation down the road if the Angels go that route.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.