Angels stick with slumping Hamilton in cleanup spot

Angels stick with slumping Hamilton in cleanup spot

ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has made a change to his lineup, but it wasn't the one anybody was anticipating.

He flipped Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar when the team arrived at Globe Life Park in Texas on Friday, with Kendrick (10 for his last 33) batting fifth and Aybar (seven for his last 39) batting sixth to, as Scioscia said, "maybe take a little pressure off Erick."

Josh Hamilton, however, remained in the cleanup spot Saturday.

One night earlier, the left-handed-hitting outfielder had gone 1-for-5 while striking out four times, dropping his batting average to .266. In Saturday's second straight 5-4 win, he went 1-for-4 with three more strikeouts. Hamilton now has six hits and 18 strikeouts in his last 38 at-bats, and eight homers in 72 games this year.

"Josh is not the same as he was when we were looking in the other dugout in Texas," Scioscia said pregame. "Right now, he's not in the batter's box with the confidence that we know he has. He's working hard to try to find it."

Last year, as he struggled through the first of a five-year, $125-million contract, Scioscia tried Hamilton at every spot in the lineup from second to seventh. But Scioscia said it's hard to move him now, because others -- including Mike Trout and Albert Pujols -- are scuffling, as well.

"I don't think any restructuring of our lineup is going to necessarily push us forward right now," Scioscia said.

Asked if he's reluctant to move Pujols to the cleanup spot, which would mean Trout bats third and Hamilton hits lower in the order, Scioscia said: "You move guys around if the whole product becomes better. If our whole lineup becomes better, you'd definitely consider it. But Mike and Albert connected -- even though Mike's maybe not as hot as he was -- their dynamic is important. It works.

"Mike gets his pitches. And Albert gets his pitches, and that's what you're looking for from the middle of your lineup."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for 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.