Torii returns to lineup

Torii returns to lineup

Torii returns to lineup
ANAHEIM -- Torii Hunter returned to the Angels' lineup Monday against Detroit. The right fielder missed starts in the team's last two games after leaving Friday's game with a contusion in his left hand, which was struck by a pitch from Dodgers righty Hiroki Kuroda.

Hunter assumed the two-spot in manager Mike Scioscia's order, a place Scioscia said he intends on keeping Hunter for the foreseeable future.

Hunter was just 5-for-37 (.135) out of the two-hole entering Monday, but the nine-time Gold Glover went deep in the first inning.

Scioscia's main objective in his construction of the lineup is keeping Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells -- hitting in the No. 2, 3, and 4 spots Monday -- connected.

"I think those guys are certainly guys who take a lot on their shoulders. They're all professional hitters, and I do think having them connected is something that we're going to go with now," Scioscia said. "Not only the experience factor, but the fact that when these guys get into their game, they're very, very good. I think it gives us the best chance to let them move forward and get into their game."

Aside from the past two games and all three contests in the previous weekend's chapter of the Freeway Series, Hunter had started virtually every game for the Angels. He began Opening Day in the club's No. 4 spot almost as a product of necessity because of Kendrys Morales' absence.

"He realizes he's not your prototypical cleanup hitter," Scioscia said. "But he's a very very productive hitter, and you want to continue to set the table for him."