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OC Register: Angels move Shohei Ohtani in front of Mike Trout in another lineup shuffle


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ANAHEIM — Continuing the seemingly endless struggle to get an underperforming lineup to score more runs, the Angels tried something new on Wednesday.

Shohei Ohtani moved from the middle of the lineup to the No. 2 spot, his first time hitting immediately in front of Mike Trout. Andrelton Simmons, who had been hitting second, was moved down to No. 6.

“We’ve talked about this possibility for a week, and I think the timing is right now to make that change,” Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Scioscia has been struggling to find a consistent lineup mostly because too many of the hitters have been slumping. Ideally, the Angels want to surround Trout with hitters will set the table for him and then drive him in when he’s on base, but they’ve had trouble on both sides of Trout.

When they moved Trout from second to third, the idea was to get him more opportunities to hit with runners on base. It didn’t change much, mostly because Simmons stopped hitting around the time he went to the No. 2 spot.

Simmons said there’s no explanation for why he would hit worse in front of Trout than he did when batting in the middle of the order. He was hitting .227 in the No. 2 spot, compared with .315 batting fifth and .346 batting sixth.

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“It may be coincidence,” Simmons said. “Maybe less luck. It’s just unfortunate sometimes. I’ll have good games here and there. I don’t know why.”

Asked on Tuesday about why Simmons may have had such a dramatic difference, Scioscia said: “I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason why guys who move around aren’t as productive. I think Simba is a great fit (at No. 2).”

On Wednesday, after making the switch, Scioscia said: “We feel Simba is more comfortable just being able to slash in a position with some guys on base. Hopefully Shohei in the second hole will create some offense in the middle of the lineup.”

Ohtani does possess two of the most important skills for batting in front of Trout. He has a .358 on-base percentage, which is third best on the team. He’s also one of the fastest players on the team.

The Angels did create another possible issue by pairing leadoff Kole Calhoun and Ohtani at the top of the order. They are both left-handed hitters who have struggled against left-handed pitching, which makes the Angels vulnerable to lefty relievers late in the game.

PEÑA’S FUTURE

A day after Felix Peña’s deepest outing as a starter — six innings, 84 pitches — Scioscia said it’s unlikely that he’ll be pushed to what would be considered a normal starting pitcher’s limits. He’s thrown 74 to 84 pitches in all six of his starts.

Peña had pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the previous two years before the Angels moved him into the rotation at Triple-A in May.

“There is a lot on his plate, to take a guy that has historically gone to 40-45 pitches in a role in the bullpen, never started before (in the majors), to try to get him to 100-110 pitches is a tall order,” Scioscia said. “We’re not going to force it.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Nick Tropeano, 3-5, 4.58) vs. White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey, 4-5, 4.95), 1 p.m., Thursday, Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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