Scioscia overhauls lineup amid struggles

Scioscia overhauls lineup amid struggles

Scioscia overhauls lineup amid struggles
ANAHEIM -- Following his club's most recent display of offensive ineptitude -- a 4-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night, the club's sixth in its last seven games -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia hinted that there could be some dramatic changes in the not-too-distant future.

On Wednesday, Scioscia made good on those claims as the Halos overhauled their lineup for their series finale against Tampa Bay. Torii Hunter moved from the cleanup spot to the two-hole for the first time since 1999. Alberto Callaspo was the club's No. 3 hitter and Bobby Abreu took Hunter's place as the club's de facto power hitter followed by Howard Kendrick in the five-hole.

"We want to try to shake things up see if we can find some chemistry," said Scioscia in regard to an offensive unit that ranked 11th in the American League in runs and 13th hitting with runners in scoring position. "We're going to try to rework some things and take a look at what might be drastic changes in the way we're going to put our groupings together just to get us out of this quagmire."

Scioscia later added: "We're just trying to stack the front of our lineup and hopefully pound some production out."

Drastic certainly is an appropriate move to describe some of the changes. It's been more than 10 years since Hunter has been described as a table setter, and Callaspo and Abreu don't boast the kind of power synonymous with players who hit in the heart of the order. Callaspo entered the game with three home runs this year, while Abreu had two.

Hunter admitted he was surprised when Scioscia approached him Wednesday with the idea of hitting second.

"He came to me and said, 'What do you think about hitting second, and I said, "What?' " Hunter said. "I just kind of thought about it for a minute, and it's kind of cool to stir up the lineup. The last four days it's been kind of silent, and it's not fun at all. Just kind of stir it up and put guys in positions where they normally don't be in, like myself, and try to stir it up a little bit." The Angels hope the move can help get Hunter back on track from what has been a rough start of the season. Forced into cleanup duties because of Kendrys Morales' absence, Hunter had to become the team's main run producer. That's a role he has not excelled at, hitting .234 this year with eight home runs and 32 RBIs.

"I'm not really a four-hole hitter," Hunter said. "Mentally, I can hit it if they want me to. But he asked me to hit fourth. I don't complain. I just do it, but I'm not your typical four-hole hitter."

While Hunter's poor batting average might suggest he isn't your typical No. 2 hitter either, Scioscia maintained that Hunter's new home could work out well for the struggling outfielder.

"It's absolutely not your prototypical spot for some of these guys," Scioscia said. "We need change, but some of the guys are going to be in a comfortable position. I think that Torii hitting in the two-hole is not that much of a stretch."

Scioscia then pointed to Callaspo's .305 average with runners in scoring position as evidence he can handle his new position along with the fact that Abreu has batted cleanup on and off throughout his career.

Scioscia did not say how permanent these moves would be -- he said he joked with Hunter that it could be a week or it could be five years. But if he gets results, the new lineup is likely to stick.

"If this thing works, obviously we'll continue to move forward with it," Scioscia said.