ANAHEIM -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, riding a season-long seven-game hitting streak and batting .417 over his last 10 games heading into Friday's opener with the Dodgers, has put his horrid start to the season behind him and has essentially chalked it all up to normalcy. "I always start slow; it's always been like that, and then I just keep getting better and better as the season goes on," Aybar said in Spanish. "Thankfully I've been doing that lately." Yeah, but he's never really started off this slow.
"No, never this slow," Aybar agreed. "But I wasn't frustrated because I was actually feeling good [at the plate]. Things weren't going the way I wanted them to, but I just kept being the same person. I would just come in, watch my videos and take that mentality into the game." Aybar has recently quieted his stance and stride from the left side of the plate, which he believes has helped him raise his batting average from .215 on June 9 to the current .245 mark, which represents the highest it's been since April 24. Defensively, he's tied with the Rangers' Elvis Andrus and the Royals' Alcides Escobar for most errors among American League shortstops, but he hasn't committed one over his last 12 games. In short, he's starting to look a lot more like the guy the Angels thought they had signed to a four-year, $35 million extension in April -- the one who has put up a .280/.327/.391 slash line the last three years and won a Gold Glove in 2011. "He's a better offensive player than he's shown for probably the first two months of the season, and we need him to contribute and get some of that action going from down below to the lineup right now as we make that turnaround to the top of the order," said manager Mike Scioscia, who has been hitting Aybar mostly in the Nos. 7 and 8 spots. "Hitting where he is now, it's important because he's connected with Mike Trout, and obviously we've seen what Mike has been doing."