Scuffling Freese gets break from lineup in series opener

Scuffling Freese gets break from lineup in series opener

WASHINGTON -- David Freese is healthy enough to play now, having fully recovered from the tight right quad that kept him out of the lineup on Friday and Saturday and relegated him to designated hitter duties on Sunday -- but he still was on the bench for Monday's series opener in D.C.

Freese went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Tigers, putting his slash line at .143/.197/.196, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia instead went with the left-handed-hitting Ian Stewart on Monday. Scioscia said it had more to do with the splits of Nats right-hander Tanner Roark, who had limited opposing right-handed hitters to a .423 OPS that's far lower than the .754 OPS lefties had hit off him.

But the move isn't necessary if Freese is right at the plate.

"Things will be great -- real soon," Freese said. "I'm excited about that. Sometimes things feel further away than they really are. I'm right around the corner. It's not my swing. It's what I'm swinging at. That's the first thing that a lot of guys forget to look at. A lot of guys think it's mechanical. You just have to have hard-nosed at-bats, take your walks, hit stuff hard, and you'll like the outcome."

In 61 plate appearances to start the year, Freese walked four times, struck out 17 times and homered once, while carrying the lowest OPS in the Majors (.393). His April is starting to look a lot like last season's, when he hit .163/.255/.204 while battling a lower back injury.

But there's a major difference.

"I feel great," Freese said. "This isn't like last year. I feel great physically."

He's still waiting for that to translate into results, however.

"There is a level of confidence that needs to grow with David," Scioscia said. "I think coming to a new team, league, he wants it to happen yesterday. He's working hard, understands what he's trying to do at the plate, and I think he will exhale when he gets some hits to fall in, and when he starts driving the ball again."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.