Cleaning up already, Halos add Vlad

Guerrero returns to Angels lineup

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Guerrero made his return to the Angels lineup Tuesday night against the White Sox as the designated hitter, batting in his customary cleanup spot between AL Player of the Month Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera.

Catcher Bobby Wilson returned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Guerrero on the 25-man roster.

"It's obviously a starting spot," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a way for Vlad to get going. Vlad feels comfortable there. It deepens our lineup. We can always adjust down the road.

"He feels good. If he can come back where he left off a couple of weeks ago, he's going to be extremely productive."

Guerrero, on the disabled list for almost a month with a strained muscle behind his left knee, is batting .290 with four homers and 21 RBIs. He injured the knee making a play in right field against the Rangers on July 7.

The only player in history besides Lou Gehrig to put together 11 consecutive seasons of batting .300 or higher with at least 25 homers, Guerrero had come alive in July after a slow start related to offseason knee surgery and a torn pectoral muscle a few days before the season opener.

He was batting .357 in 28 July at-bats at the time of his injury, with a .643 slugging percentage and .400 on-base percentage.

Center fielder Torii Hunter joined Guerrero on the 15-day disabled list since July 10. The Angels were 17-3 with their customary 3-4 hitters out of the lineup, leading the Majors in batting average, runs scored, hits and average with runners in scoring position.

Hunter, out with an adductor muscle strain on his right side, will need a little more time, Scioscia said, because he'll be in center field when he rejoins the lineup. Hunter expects to play a few Minor League rehab games for Double-A Arkansas, starting on Friday in Little Rock. 

Scioscia dismissed the notion that dropping Guerrero back into the cleanup spot could disrupt a lineup that has set a club record with four consecutive games of at least nine runs scored and just finished producing 35 runs and 52 hits in a three-game sweep of the Twins in Minnesota.

"Guys are going to hit in any spot if they're swinging the bat well," Scioscia said. "It's not going to affect anybody. It's going to enhance anything we have going offensively.

"We've got to get Vlad out there and see where he is. The bat that he's replacing is Sean [Rodriguez], Reggie [Willits] or Howie [Kendrick]. We're very confident that Vlad can do what he started to do [in July]. We'll move with it, obviously.

"We're going to have as deep a lineup as we've ever had, and, hopefully, Vlad will be in the middle of it."

Guerrero is a .333 hitter without an extra-base hit in 21 career at-bats against Jose Contreras, Chicago's starter on Tuesday night. Guerrero hasn't had much success against the starters who will follow Contreras: 2-for-11 (.182) against right-hander Gavin Floyd and 3-for-12 (.250) with a homer against southpaw John Danks, who will work Thursday's matinee.

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