4/20/2014 7:05 P.M. ET
Scuffling lineup seeks consistent production
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
DETROIT -- During a rout on Friday, the Angels scored 11 runs and notched 10 extra-base hits. During back-to-back losses on Saturday and Sunday, they combined for three runs on 11 hits.
Inconsistency like that is to be expected from a lineup that will be without its two corner outfielders, leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun and cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton, until at least mid-May. But the issue is compounded with newcomers David Freese and Raul Ibanez batting a combined .145.
Freese went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Sunday, lowering his slash line to .143/.197/.196, and Ibanez struck out against Joe Nathan while pinch-hitting for Freese with the tying run on first and two outs in the ninth, lowering his slash line to .148/.212/.311.
"I think they're going to give us what they can give us -- doesn't necessarily have to be power, but in the production," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's some guys that just aren't on track right now."
If right, Ibanez and Freese would both make up the middle of the lineup along with Albert Pujols.
Because they're not, non-roster invitee Ian Stewart batted fourth on Sunday and the left-handed-hitting Ibanez sat against an opposing starter -- Rick Porcello -- who has struggled against lefties his entire career.
Scioscia went into the season realistically hopeful of having a stable lineup throughout the year, but has used five different batting orders in the last five games. And until Calhoun (sprained right ankle) and Hamilton (left thumb surgery) return, he'll have to continue to mix and match.
"If you look at Raul, you look at David Freese, you look at some guys that are off to a little bit of a slower start, Erick [Aybar] -- these guys are much better hitters," Scioscia said. "I think that's going to come around. We need that depth.
"Obviously we can't create the depth and the power missing those two guys, but we should be able to get enough good groupings to where we're doing what we need to do on the offensive end."
Trout to take same field as fellow phenom Harper
DETROIT -- Rivalries are good for professional sports, and nothing is better than matchups between two star players.
The problem is, the nature of baseball doesn't necessarily lend itself to that.
So while it's great to have Mike Trout on the same field as Miguel Cabrera in Detroit this weekend, and there will be a lot of attention paid to Trout playing against fellow young superstar Bryce Harper for the first time in Washington, D.C., next week, they don't necessarily match up against one another.
"We're both position players, so we're not really going to face each other," Trout said. "We're both going to try, obviously, to get on base, get some hits. But I think when you try to do too much, that's when you get in trouble."
Trout and Harper exchange text messages every once in a while, but besides being on the same Arizona Fall League team in 2011 and playing against one another in the All-Star Game last year, the two haven't spent much time on the same field. And they aren't necessarily that close.
"I'm not best friends with him," Trout said. "But we both root for each other."
Harper, about a year younger than the 22-year-old Trout, was benched in Saturday's sixth inning for not hustling out of the batter's box on a grounder back to the mound. Nats skipper Matt Williams called it "the inability to run 90 feet," and Harper said he understood the decision.
"I saw that," Trout said. "For me, I run everything out. You never know what could have been on his mind. I know he's hurting with a tight quad. But that's the way they play over there [hustling all the time], and you have to respect that. I think [Harper] handled it the right way, understood what he did, and hopefully he never does it again."
Ibanez to mostly sit when Angels visit NL parks
DETROIT -- The Angels will make their first of four visits to a National League park on Monday for the start of a three-game series against the Nationals. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Raul Ibanez will make one start in left field, likely on Monday or Tuesday against an opposing right-hander.
But mainly, he'll sit.
"It's an unfortunate thing about going to play a National League club, but it's what we'll do," Scioscia said. "Right now it might be good to give Raul a day off. It's good for him to catch his breath a little. He's been working real hard in the cage and hasn't seen the results he wants in the batter's box."
Ibanez, who sat Sunday so that David Freese could serve as the designated hitter in his first game back from a tight right quad, is batting .150/.215/.317 to start the year. But his overall absence from the lineup these next three days alludes to a larger point, about the need for uniformity now that Interleague Play is spread out over the course of a full season.
Scioscia's club will also be in Philadelphia on May 13-14, Atlanta on June 13-15 and Los Angeles on Aug. 4-5, and is one of many who believes it has come to a point where both leagues should go by the same rules.
"If you'd asked me 20 years ago, I was absolutely for pitchers hitting in both leagues," Scioscia said, "but I've come to appreciate the DH. It opens up a lot of the stuff they say it suppresses as far as little ball.
"I don't know which way it's going to go, but I'm sure it's going to be standardized at some point. We'll see which way it goes."
• Freese returned to the lineup on Sunday, serving as the designated hitter after missing the previous two games with tightness in his right quad. Scioscia said Freese was healthy enough to play third base, but wanted to take advantage of the DH before playing three games in an NL park starting Monday.
• Scioscia doesn't typically allow pitchers to swing the bat in Spring Training, but he also doesn't put handcuffs on them when it's time to bat or run the bases in NL parks.
"You have to play baseball," Scioscia said. "Its part of competing. These guys are athletes. If they stay aggressive, they'll be OK. The head-first slide is obviously something you tell them not to do."
• After Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Tigers, the Angels optioned right-handed reliever Josh Wall to Triple-A Salt Lake. They'll announce a corresponding roster move on Monday. Wall was charged with five earned runs without recording an out on Friday, then allowed another run while pitching the eighth inning on Saturday.
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.