Hunter gives Kendrick veteran advice

Hunter gives Kendrick veteran advice

SEATTLE -- After Wednesday night's 1-0 loss to the Mariners, Angels outfielder Torii Hunter and second baseman Howard Kendrick were embroiled in a lengthy conversation at Hunter's locker.

Hunter wouldn't reveal the majority of the details of the chat, but he did say some of it had to do with Kendrick's at-bat with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Hunter was on third base at the time after hitting a two-out double and advancing on consecutive walks to Kendry Morales and Gary Matthews Jr.

But Kendrick, who has been mired in a hitting slump this month, took a hack at the first pitch he saw from Seattle starter Chris Jakubauskas and flied out to right field to end the Angels' last real threat at scoring.

"He's still young," Hunter said. "He's still trying to learn the game, and it's up to me and the veteran guys to help teach him. That's what I went through. It wasn't the manager, it wasn't the coaches. It was the veteran players. Always."

Hunter hearkened back to his own experiences as a 17-year-old prospect fresh out of Pine Bluff, Ark., heading to Spring Training with the Minnesota Twins in 1993.

"Coming from Arkansas, I didn't know what a slider was," he said.

Fortunately, he had future Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett to help show him to ropes, which is what he said he's trying to do with Kendrick.

Hunter remembered a particular day when he was fooled by the offspeed pitches of former big leaguer Dave Burba, and the late Puckett took Hunter into the batting cage to throw him sliders. Hunter described the pitches as being seen as having "a dot" because of the appearance of the seams of the spinning ball.

Now Hunter is there for Kendrick, who has shown signs of life, with two hits in each of his two games before Wednesday.

"I'm not saying I'm perfect," Hunter said. "I swing at bad pitches, too. I learned from my mistakes, and I learned from the veteran guys. That's what I'm trying to do for him."

Pitching matchup
LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (5-2, 3.59 ERA)
Saunders was in trouble from start to finish against the Rangers in Texas on Friday night. He yielded three homers in a game for the fourth time in his career, two to Ian Kinsler, surrendering seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. His ERA elevated by almost a full run, from 2.66 to 3.59, as he gave up eight hits and two walks while striking out four. Saunders has had his way with the Mariners. He's 5-1 in eight career starts with a 4.13 ERA against Seattle and is 3-0 in four outings at Safeco Field with a 4.22 ERA, including a win in April when he held the Mariners to one earned run on three hits in seven innings.

SEA: LHP Erik Bedard (2-1, 2.53 ERA)
The left-hander missed his last scheduled start because of soreness in his right hamstring. In his previous outing, he threw a season-high number of pitches over the shortest distance, a combination that would not have qualified him for his third win of the season. Bedard threw 110 pitches in a 4 2/3 inning outing against the Twins in the Mariners' final game at the Metrodome. Five walks and four strikeouts had a major impact in the high pitch count, but Bedard still allowed just two runs despite running into jams virtually every inning. He needs to be more efficient with his pitches, or he could have a tough time getting his games to the sixth or seventh inning.

Kelvim Escobar threw a successful bullpen session of around 40 pitches Wednesday and will leave Thursday to join Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday. He'll meet the team in Lake Elsinore and start Friday's game, throwing about 60 pitches. Escobar said he threw all of his pitches in the session. "I felt great," he said. "No pain whatsoever. I'm strong and I'm ready to go." ... Ervin Santana's 1-0 loss to the Mariners on Wednesday marked his first career defeat to Seattle. He had gone 6-0 with a 2.36 ERA against the Mariners in 10 career starts prior to Wednesday. ... Chone Figgins extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-out single in Wednesday's eighth inning. He's batting .389 (14-for-36) during the stretch, raising his batting average from .246 to .280.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-W

On radio
• KLAA 830, KFWB, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 3-2, 2.59) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 2-3, 4.60), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Angels (John Lackey, 1-0, 9.00) at Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 2-1, 2.72), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Angels (Matt Palmer, 5-0, 4.26) at Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 6-1, 2.51), 1:10 p.m. PT

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.