Kendrick has been Angels' leading man
Second baseman producing in Interleague at top of order
ANAHEIM -- If it's the Dodgers in the other dugout, it means this is Interleague Play, and that generally means Howard Kendrick is swinging a hot bat.
A .372 career hitter against the Dodgers in 43 at-bats coming into Tuesday night's latest renewal of the Interleague series, Kendrick is a .339 lifetime hitter against the National League. He has moved to the top of the order for manager Mike Scioscia's Angels in the absence of Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis, and his bat has continued to make loud noises even if he's not the prototypical leadoff man along the lines of Chone Figgins.
The Angels have won three of four with Kendrick leading off and making good things happen. He was 5-for-14 with two homers and five RBIs in the three games in Chicago against the Cubs over the weekend, continuing to produce runs wherever he finds himself in Scioscia's lineup.
Kendrick has 26 RBIs in his past 24 games and is on pace for 103, which would better his career high by 42 RBIs.
"Howie's strength is to swing the bat," Scioscia said. "He's getting better at working counts, but it can be a case of diminishing returns [if he gets overly selective]. See the ball, square it up and hit it hard -- that's Howie's strength.
"Howie has the ability to do it. The amount of times he gets in scoring position makes up for his on-base percentage, because he hits a lot of doubles and runs well."
DL decision on Aybar looms for Angels
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia expects a decision to be made in the next day or two whether to place Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 15, or keep him on the active roster.
Aybar suffered a hyperextension of the left knee in a collision at second base last Monday night against the Brewers. An MRI showed damage to the meniscus, and Aybar has been playing catch, riding the stationary bike and taking ground balls with limited knee movement.
"Erick's feeling better," Scioscia said. "He got examined by Dr. [Lewis] Yocum. We should get an indication in the next day or two if it's moving in the right direction or needs more time. We're encouraged long range that it's not going to be an issue. Short range, we might need to shut him down and give him a week [to recover]."
Aybar was playing his best baseball of the season at the time of the collision, hitting .382 in June and .444 in his previous 27 at-bats.
Halos' Wood coming alive at plate
ANAHEIM -- Brandon Wood has been at shortstop the past four games with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis (15-day DL, left forearm strain) unavailable, and the Angels have won three of the four with Wood going 5-for-15 (.333).
"Against the Cubs, Brandon definitely looked more comfortable in the batter's box," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He hit some balls hard for outs. Hopefully, he'll keep moving forward."
Wood had a rough game defensively in Sunday's blowout loss at Wrigley Field, but Scioscia considered that an aberration.
"Woody's a very good defensive shortstop," Scioscia said. "It's not fair to compare anyone with Erick's range. Woody has shown he can get the job done at shortstop, and we're confident with him in there."
Wood has focused on third base the past few seasons, and that's where he started this season before going to the disabled list with a hip flexor strain. He said he is regaining a feel for the shortstop position, with the need to anticipate making the critical first step in either direction as opposed to simply reacting at third base.
The Dodgers, 2-7 in Interleague Play entering the series, will send right-hander John Ely out against Joel Pineiro on Wednesday night, with righty Charlie Haeger facing Scott Kazmir in Thursday night's series finale. ... The Angels announced they've agreed to terms on Minor League contracts with four high picks in the recent First-Year Player Draft: shortstop Taylor Lindsey (compensation round, No. 37 overall), outfielder Ryan Bolden (compensation, No. 40), right-hander Daniel Tillman (second round) and shortstop Wendell Soto (third round). The club also has agreed to terms with right-hander Donn Roach (compensation, No. 115 overall) and fourth-round pick Max Russell, a left-hander, along with right-hander Brian Diemer (sixth round), center fielder Andrew Heid (ninth round) and left-hander Aaron Meade (10th round). Lindsey is from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Bolden is another high school product from Madison (Miss.) Central. Tillman is from Florida Southern College, while Soto was a high school standout at Riverview, Fla. "We are very pleased with this year's Draft," scouting director Eddie Bane said. "The signings are moving along very well, and we are encouraged to see many of our Draft picks already playing." Roach (College of Southern Nevada), Russell (Florida Southern), Diemer (Cal Berkeley), Heid (Gonzaga) and Meade (Missouri State) all have college experience. The Angels have signed 23 players from rounds 13 through 50, including three Southern California products: shortstop Jesus Campos (round 24, South Gate), second baseman Michael Sodders (round 31, Moreno Valley) and right-hander Eric Cendejas (round 33, Corona). The club's three first-round picks from Georgia -- Kaleb Cowart (18 overall), Cameron Bedrosian (29) and Chevez Clarke (30) -- remain unsigned.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.