Versatile Izturis Angels' early-season MVP

Versatile Izturis Angels' early-season MVP

Versatile Izturis Angels' early-season MVP
BOSTON -- If manager Mike Scioscia had to vote today on the Angels' most valuable position player, his choice likely would be Maicer Izturis. The versatile Venezuelan has handled three infield positions adeptly and supplied quality performance in the leadoff role not seen since Chone Figgins' departure to Seattle after the 2009 season.

"We'd like to have three Izzys," Scioscia said as a tarp covered Fenway Park's infield prior to Wednesday night's game. "We have one right now, and we want to build with him."

Scioscia had Izturis batting third for the first time this season, calling to mind a story the diminutive athlete told in 2009 as he was spending some time in that role with Torii Hunter sidelined.

"My brother [Cesar] called me and said, `You couldn't even bat third in the Chavez League in Venezuela,'" Izturis said. The reference was to a sandlot circuit in their native land bringing together old-timers and youngsters.

With five hits in eight at-bats in this series, Izturis has raised his average to .340. His .511 slugging mark is surpassed among teammates only by Howard Kendrick's .521.

The Angels are 10-10 with Izturis batting first. They're 4-1 with Peter Bourjos in that role and 2-3 with Erick Aybar, who drew the assignment against Josh Beckett with Scioscia trying to load the lineup with contact-hitting lefties.

In the No. 3 hole this season, the club is 11-9 with Bobby Abreu, 4-3 with Hunter and 1-2 with Kendrick.

"I hit the same wherever I am in the lineup," Izturis said. "Batting third, I might get more chances to drive in runs. I like that. I also like leading off and batting second. It doesn't matter where I bat as long as I'm in the lineup."

Izturis is a .322 career hitter with runners in scoring position, a category that has created frustration for the Angels this season. They're batting .227. Izturis is at .286.