5/28/2014 2:20 A.M. ET
Injuries, struggles force Scioscia into platooning
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia went into the season hoping to basically ride the same lineup all year.
An assortment of injuries and some individual struggles have turned it into a platoon, with Raul Ibanez, Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger mainly starting against righties and right-handed hitters C.J. Cron, Grant Green and Chris Iannetta starting against lefties -- like Tuesday starter Roenis Elias -- most of the time.
"There's no doubt we've had to mix and match as much as we ever have," Scioscia said. "I think we've found good offensive chemistry against both righties and lefties that has helped us to score runs and keep ourselves afloat. We need it to continue."
Scioscia has basically had a platoon behind the plate with Iannetta and the switch-hitting Conger since the early part of last season, but the left-handed-hitting Ibanez and Calhoun will have to get going before they start against lefties.
Ibanez entered Tuesday with a .156/.278/.279 slash line, while Calhoun is 1-for-15 since returning from a sprained right ankle.
Calhoun said his timing is "getting there," and took some positives from lining an up-the-middle single to break up Chris Young's no-hitter in the sixth inning on Monday. But he also admitted to still having "some growing pains" with the ankle and believes sitting him against lefties "is the smartest thing for this team right now," referencing how well Collin Cowgill and Green have hit.
"We've got a lot of weapons, and that's exciting," Calhoun said. "That's why the team was doing so good even with guys on the [disabled list]."
The one constant in Scioscia's lineup thus far has been Mike Trout batting second and Albert Pujols batting third. And for the last six games, Howie Kendrick -- with a career-high walk rate and a .303/.379/.415 slash line entering Tuesday -- has been his leadoff hitter.
Calhoun will probably return there when Josh Hamilton is activated, if he's productive again.
"When Kole's swinging like he can, the way he sees pitches, he has a lot of value there in the leadoff spot," Scioscia said. "And it allows Howie to hit in more of an RBI position."
Burnett suffers another setback
SEATTLE -- Angels reliever Sean Burnett, three outings into his return from a nine-month rehabilitation, was removed from Tuesday's game because of discomfort in his surgically repaired left elbow and will be evaluated in Southern California on Wednesday.
Burnett will likely land on the disabled list, and the Angels will cross their fingers that the injury isn't serious.
"Lot of frustration right now," Burnett said when approached by a scrum of reporters at the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field. "I'm trying to stay positive."
Shortly after that, the 31-year-old lefty reliever's eyes welled up and he had to walk away from the interview, the emotions of yet another setback still too raw for Burnett, who was limited to 13 appearances in 2013 and underwent elbow surgery in August -- a procedure that saw Dr. James Andrews reopen the scar from his Tommy John surgery in 2004 and clean up residual scar tissue.
"He's worked his [butt] off to get back to this point," Angels ace Jered Weaver said. "He's a great guy, man. He wants to go out there and he wants to help his team win. I know he's very frustrated. Tough time for him right now. Hopefully when they get results back of whatever they're going to do tomorrow, hopefully it's not as serious as something torn or something like that. It's tough, man."
Prior to the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said left-hander Wade LeBlanc would start on Thursday. But if Burnett goes on the DL, the Angels can recall Matt Shoemaker to make that start. Shoemaker posted a 2.81 ERA in three starts in place of Hector Santiago, but was sent down because the Angels needed length from the bullpen after their relievers accounted for eight innings in Saturday's 13-inning game.
Burnett entered the seventh inning of a two-run lead to face left-handed hitters Michael Saunders and Robinson Cano. He got Saunders to pop out to shortstop, then motioned to the dugout, prompting Scioscia to walk out to the mound with trainer Rick Smith and remove Burnett after a brief conversation.
With the Nationals from 2010-12, Burnett posted a 2.76 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP while compiling 212 appearances.
But since signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Angels the ensuing offseason, he's battled issues with his left elbow.
"Naturally you're concerned," Scioscia said of Burnett. "We really don't have an idea of what it is now. We'll get direction from our medical department, he'll get evaluated tomorrow by our doctors down in California and we'll take it one step at a time. We'll wait and see what's going on."
Trout not sure he wants to take part in Home Run Derby
SEATTLE -- Mike Trout, the leading vote-getter in the American League as of Tuesday, looks primed to go to his third All-Star Game in as many years. But the superstar center fielder once again sounds reluctant to partake in the Home Run Derby, saying Tuesday that he "probably" wouldn't if asked.
"I don't know if I'd do it," Trout said. "I don't think [Mike] Scioscia would want me to do it."
Trout is correct on that.
The Angels' manager said participating is "totally a player's decision, and it should be." But his stance on the event hasn't changed.
"I don't like it," Scioscia said. "I think it has great fan interest; I even like watching it. But when it's one of your players doing it, not a fan. I don't know if a player ever takes that many full-gorilla swings in that short of a time. It's like a long-drive contest for a golfer who has to go out there and rely on touch. I don't think they would like that."
Scioscia's outlook on the Home Run Derby is the opposite as that of Albert Pujols, who took part in the event in '03, '07 and '09, and has never struggled in the second half because of it.
"For guys that haven't done it, I encourage them to do it at least once," Pujols, who is sporting a team-leading 14 homers, said in late April. "It's awesome. It's a good time. And you put on a good show for the fans. That's what you do it for."
Trout took part in a home run derby while at the lower Class A level and said it "didn't turn out too well."
"I hit like two or three home runs," Trout said, but he doesn't believe it messed up his swing.
"I didn't think about it much," he added. "It's for the fans, to have fun and try to hit some home runs. After the All-Star break, you get back to the basics anyways."
Scioscia has had four of his players participate in the Home Run Derby since he took over as Angels manager in 2000, and two of them actually won.
In '01, Troy Glaus was shut out at Safeco Field, then had a higher OPS in the second half (.922) than in the first (.877).
In '03, Garret Anderson won, but had a lower OPS in the second half (.807) than in the first (.943).
In '07, Vladimir Guerrero won and stayed at about the same pace (.962 OPS in the first half, .935 OPS in the second half).
In '12, Mark Trumbo finished third in the Derby and slumped the rest of the way, going from a first-half OPS of .965 to a second-half OPS of .630.
Scioscia let them take part, but only begrudgingly.
"I would advise any one of our guys not to do it, just for the wear and tear it takes on your whole swing," Scioscia said. "I enjoy watching it. It's great fan interest. But let the other guys in the League do it."
• Hamilton, diagnosed with a bone bruise on his left thumb, is "feeling better," Scioscia said Tuesday. Hamilton threw and did some running exercises early Tuesday afternoon, and hopes to start swinging the bat again Wednesday.
• Asked about Target Field, site of the 2014 All-Star Game, Trout said: "I like Minnesota a lot. I was disappointed when they didn't make it a dome. It's so cold. I think a lot of people were. But the fans are great. It's a nice stadium."
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.