Vlad to DH for Halos in Game 1
Scioscia may keep slugger in role all series to aid sore knee
ANAHEIM -- Vladimir Guerrero, hindered off and on this season by inflammation in his right knee, will serve as the Angels' designated hitter in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.
Guerrero, who joined Lou Gehrig this season as the only players in history to bat at least .300 with 25 or more homers for 11 consecutive seasons, will most likely remain as the team's DH throughout the best-of-five series.
Playing right field in the opener against southpaw Jon Lester will be Gary Matthews Jr., who has been the Angels' fourth outfielder all season in the wake of the free-agent acquisition of center fielder Torii Hunter last November.
Keeping intact the basic framework of a lineup that has flourished over the final two months of the season, manager Mike Scioscia will have Chone Figgins leading off, followed by Garret Anderson, Mark Teixeira, Guerrero, Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Mike Napoli, Matthews and Erick Aybar.
"What we're looking for with Vlad is to get comfortable and swing the bat," Scioscia said. "If it's going to take one less thing to worry about -- the stress of running [in the outfield] -- especially with Gary going out there, we're going to let Vlad DH."
By taking the longer of the two ALDS showdowns, Scioscia will have an extra day off for veterans such as Guerrero and Anderson to rest and recharge.
"With breaks in the schedule," Scioscia said, "Garrett should be able to play left every day."
Anderson has been highly productive in the No. 2 spot in the order between Figgins and Teixeira, batting .344 with a .467 slugging percentage and .372 on-base percentage.
"That's a great place to hit," Anderson said. "I like the fact that it gets me right into the game, in the first inning. And I enjoy hitting behind Chone."
Matthews, who was slowed by a slight tear in his left knee this season, is coming off his best month of the season. He batted .318 in September, with a .375 on-base percentage and .485 slugging percentage.
Scioscia gave Matthews the call over Juan Rivera, citing Matthews' "good looks" against Lester.
Matthews has gone deep twice with three RBIs against the Boston southpaw while batting .500 in six at-bats. He also has a walk.
Rivera is 2-for-5 against Lester, with a double and two RBIs. Another Angels outfielder, Reggie Willits, is 2-for-2 with a walk against Lester.
Matthews is enthused about taking his first crack at postseason play after being forced to sit out last year's ALDS against the Red Sox with knee tendinitis.
"We're deeper, more balanced, than last year," Matthews said. "Heading into the playoffs last year, there were all those questions about our healthy. Vladdy had gotten hit in the shoulder a couple times the last two weeks. ... Garret had conjunctivitis in his eye. By the end of the series, he looked like Muhammad Ali after a Joe Frazier fight.
"Our offense now is just as deep as our starting pitching and bullpen."
The Angels were so thin last October, Figgins was forced to move from third base to the outfield against the Red Sox.
With seven capable outfielders available now at Scioscia's disposal -- Guerrero, Anderson, Hunter, Matthews, Rivera, Willits and Kendry Morales -- Figgins can settle in at the hot corner and not concern himself with moving back to the outfield.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.