6/22/2014 11:48 P.M. ET
Cron finding power stroke with regular playing time
By Matthew DeFranks / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Entering the weekend, C.J. Cron had two home runs in his previous 27 games. He exceeded that total in three games against the Rangers.
After having just one at-bat in the previous eight days, Cron responded with solo shots in each game of the series, upping his season total to six dingers and possibly securing his place in the Angels' lineup.
Cron only played in two of the six games on the most recent road trip, due mostly to a string of right-handed starting pitchers. Angels manager Mike Scioscia opted to go with the left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez as the designated hitter against righties.
But the Angels released Ibanez on Saturday, opening the door for Cron to put his stamp on a starting role.
"You don't really want to go a long period without seeing live pitching, and I did, but I prepared as if I was playing," Cron said before Sunday's 5-2 Angels win in which his homer off Yu Darvish started a four-run Halos fourth. "I think that helped me a lot getting back into it, and obviously, the more at-bats, the more pitches you see, the better you get."
With the home run on Sunday, Cron became the first Angels rookie to homer in all three games of a series since Tim Salmon in 1993.
"Right now, he's going to get a chance to swing the bat," Scioscia said. "He's getting at-bats, and he's swinging the bat very well."
June had been a tough month for the rookie before returning home, hitting just .182/.206/.212 in 12 games since May 31. Prior to that, he was sporting a .319/.347/.580 slash line.
Before Friday's blast to right-center field, Cron had not homered since May 27, and this weekend marks the first time in his career Cron had RBIs in consecutive games.
"For a young player getting his first crack at the big leagues, he's holding up remarkably well, especially when a lot of his at-bats have come as a DH," Scioscia said. "Not an easy thing for a young player to do, and I think he's responded well."
Pujols returns to lineup as Halos' DH in finale
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols was back in the Angels' lineup Sunday night after missing Saturday's game with a sore back.
Pujols batted third as the designated hitter, with rookie C.J. Cron manning first base. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the DH role was just a precaution for Pujols.
"Just ease him back in," Scioscia said. "He feels good swinging, and it'll just help him from having to stand out there and move around, and hopefully, just get him to get over that stiffness he had a couple days ago."
Pujols left Friday's game in the top of the sixth inning. He entered Sunday with multihit games in four of his last eight games, with nine RBIs over that span.
Baylor could return to Angels by end of month
ANAHEIM -- Angels hitting coach Don Baylor was back around the team Sunday, more than two months after breaking his leg on Opening Day.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Baylor has a doctor's appointment Tuesday that could decide if Baylor is able to travel on the team's upcoming road trip to Kansas City and Chicago.
"He's made a lot of improvement over the last couple of weeks, but that's not going to be our decision," Scioscia said.
Baylor is in his first season as the Angels' hitting coach after spending the previous three seasons as the hitting coach in Arizona. Paul Sorrento has served as the interim hitting coach in Baylor's absence.
"I think it's one thing to connect with players through text and talk to them, but it's another thing when you eye-to-eye them and get out here and give them a feel of exactly what you're talking about and what you're seeing," Sciosia said. "There's no doubt he's going to be able to impart a little more with his experience."
The Angels entered play Sunday third in the American League in scoring (4.72 runs per game) and sixth in batting average (.259).
• Scioscia said he would talk with the medical staff and pitching coach Mike Butcher before deciding when sidelined left-hander Tyler Skaggs will return. Skaggs threw a simulated game Saturday and has not pitched since June 5.
"Seems like he came out of his sim game OK, and we'll see what the next step is," Scioscia said. "Butch and I are going to put our heads together on that with our medical staff."
Scioscia did not rule out a potential rehab start for Skaggs, saying it was a "possibility, but we'll see."
• Grant Green was in the starting lineup Sunday for the first time since being recalled from Triple-A on Friday. He played second base and hit ninth.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.