The Los Angeles Angels have awarded shortstop Erick Aybar the No. 2 spot in the batting order. However, he must continue to play at a high level if he wants to hit in front of Albert Pujols come Opening Day.
Manager Mike Scioscia has made it very clear that there are other candidates for the job, but he wants to give it to Aybar first to see how the veteran handles the role.
“That’s what our template is and hopefully we’ll get a little chemistry going here in the last week [of Spring Training],” Scioscia told Angels.com. “There are other candidates that we’re looking at, as well. But right now, I think he’ll probably get first crack.”
The reason for this is because Aybar finished the 2012 Major League Baseball on a strong note and Scioscia wants to see if he can continue that success in a critical part of the order. The 29-year-old is a terrific bunter, which certainly comes in handy when batting behind Mike Trout, and has above-average speed on the base path.
The one down side to Aybar’s performance at the plate is that he can be a bit impatient. This is not to say that he strikes out a lot as he only posted 61 strikeouts in 517 at-bats last season. It just means that he needs to see a few more pitches before he takes a quality swing. Batting in front of Pujols and Josh Hamilton should certainly allow him to get a decent amount of good looks.
If Aybar does not handle the No. 2 spot well then Scioscia is going to move on to another player that he feels can get the job done.