Scioscia remains confident in Aybar

Scioscia remains confident in Aybar

ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia is keeping the faith in leadoff hitter Erick Aybar, despite a slump that has lasted more than a month now.

And the bottom line is there's really no other options for what has been a big hole at the top of the Angels' lineup, especially with Aybar batting .194 (21-for-106) since April 18.

"I still have confidence in him," Scioscia said. "His track record says he's going to do better than he's been doing lately.

"When you focus on the offense, it's a very prominent role, the No. 1 spot. He's won a lot of games for us with his defense."

Aybar batted a career-best .305 last season and had 18 bunt hits to lead the American League, so there's some reason to believe he can turn things around. Aybar hit .337 with 36 RBIs over the last 72 games in 2009.

Scioscia said Aybar has shown more confidence hitting from the right side, his weaker side (though he did bat .305 right-handed last year). His average is stuck at .214 and he has 20 strikeouts in 103 at-bats right-handed.

Aybar is batting .265 from the left side, which is well below the .325 average he had last season.

"He has not gotten his same game that we saw last year," Scioscia said. "That doesn't mean it's not going to happen."

Aybar's struggles magnify the absence of Maicer Izturis, on the disabled list since May 8 with right shoulder inflammation. Izturis threw for the first time on Monday and also ran the bases and took batting practice in the cage, but there's still no timetable on his return.

"[Aybar's struggles] shows the importance of a guy like Maicer Izturis," Scioscia said. "It gives you three options for those two spots with Aybar and [second baseman] Howie Kendrick."