With Izturis out, Angels stick with Aybar

With Izturis out, Angels stick with Aybar

CLEVELAND -- While it's true the season-ending thumb injury to Maicer Izturis leaves the Angels a bit thin at shortstop, it doesn't mean the team will immediately seek veteran help at that position.

Iztruis originally hurt his left thumb in early August. He missed over a week of action, but injured it again diving for a ball on Wednesday night against Seattle. The bad news came on Friday that he suffered a torn ligament and will have surgery Tuesday.

For now, the Angels will go with Erick Aybar, who is 24 years old and in his first full season in the Majors. That's fine with manager Mike Scioscia, who realizes experience is important, but doesn't consider it the only factor.

"People talk about experience, but it's only one part of the evaluation process," Scioscia said. "I don't think experience is the magic pill that guarantees success. There are a lot of things to look at."

One of those factors is talent, which Aybar has plenty of. He batted over .300 four times in the Minor Leagues, where he also gained the reputation as a slick fielder. A switch-hitter, Aybar is batting .283 with equal success from both sides of the plate. He's hitting .288 from the right side and .281 from the left while drawing 11 walks. In 74 games at short, Aybar has made 12 errors and has been in on 50 double plays.

"He has the potential to be a dynamic player," Scioscia said.

For the moment, Aybar doesn't have to be dynamic. As long as he makes the plays defensively and gets on base from the second spot in the order for the sluggers behind him, Scioscia will be happy.

Izturis did a solid job hitting between leadoff man Chone Figgins and No. 3 hitter Mark Teixeria. He batted .269 and drew 26 walks before he was injured. Aybar started eight of nine games when Izturis originally hurt his thumb Aug. 1 and batted .310 (9-for-29) with three runs scored and three walks.

"The guys [at the top of the lineup] have to be on base and work the count," Scioscia said. "Erick is starting to develop into that type of hitter at this point in his career. He's come a long way."

Of course, if Aybar should go down with an injury, the Angels will have a problem. Utility infielder Sean Rodriguez will back up Aybar. Brandon Wood, the Angels' No. 1 pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is batting .293 with 28 homers and 71 RBIs.

At that point, the Angels would probably have to acquire a veteran shortstop, but right now they are content to stick with Aybar.

Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.