SEATTLE -- Howard Kendrick has been touted as a contender for the American League batting title since he arrived in the Major Leagues. On Tuesday, he hit ninth in the Angels' lineup for only the second time this year.
Astute followers of Mike Scioscia's managerial style know that the Angels skipper often views the nine-hole as a second leadoff spot. For example, during the 2002 season, Adam Kennedy batted ninth and had the highest average on the team.
But for a guy who began the season batting second and entered Tuesday's game against the Mariners with a .236 average, it's a clear demotion, and Scioscia said the team is still waiting for Kendrick's bat to come alive.
"Our goal is to get Howie productive like we know he can be," Scioscia said. "He's had a tough [first] 100 at-bats and he hasn't gotten comfortable like we know he can at the plate. Our long-range goal for him is to be productive."
While Kendrick is batting .200 (10-for-50) in May, Scioscia said he's noticed signs of life lately.
"The last four or five days, he's worked some counts better," Scioscia said. "In Spring Training, he was on everything. He was taking pitches, getting ahead in counts and killing the ball. Then he slowly got out of sync in his stance and was closing off a bit.
"I think at some point when hits aren't falling, you start pressing and thinking, 'What do I have to do?' he works as hard as anyone I've seen. He's going to figure this out."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.