CHICAGO -- Mickey Hatcher, the Angels' hitting coach, and Paul McAnulty, the Angels' new hitter, are kindred spirits -- easygoing off the field, intensely competitive between the lines.
It figured that the two would form a mutual bond, and that has happened quickly. McAnulty praises Hatcher's approach to his job, and Hatcher returns the compliment in kind.
"Mac can hit, and hit with authority," Hatcher said. "I really like the way he gets after it. He and Cory [Aldridge] give us some left-handed pop off the bench. Late in a one-run game, guys like that can make a difference."
McAnulty hails from Oxnard, Calif., due north of Angel Stadium, and was pondering retirement this winter after spending parts of four seasons with the Padres, hitting .205 for his career in 219 Major League at-bats. Signing a Minor League deal with the Angels, he began the season with Double-A Arkansas, was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and was brought to Anaheim Sunday, hitting a home run at Angel Stadium in his first big league game since 2008.
"This is great, being here with these guys," said McAnulty, who was in the lineup at first base on Wednesday night as another downpour forced a delay at U.S. Cellular Field. "I love Mickey; he's my kind of hitting coach in every way. I know Weav [starter Jered Weaver] from our Long Beach State days. So it felt comfortable for me here right away. I hope I can stick around."
Angels need Abreu, Matsui to get going
CHICAGO -- Torii Hunter has been scalding the ball lately, lifting his average to .302 while drawing 14 walks in 16 games. But the two former Yankees hitting in front of and behind the cleanup man -- Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui -- have been a drag on the offense during the Angels' recent struggles to score runs.
Over their past 10 games, heading into Wednesday night's collision with the runaway White Sox, Abreu and Matsui have combined for six runs scored (three apiece) and 10 RBIs (five each). Abreu has only four hits and a .111 average, while Matsui is batting .219 with seven hits.
Hunter's on-base percentage has climbed to .385, with his slugging percentage at .525. Having won his first Silver Slugger Award in 2009, the All-Star center fielder appears intent on going for two.
"Torii and Howie [Kendrick] and Erick Aybar, to an extent, are guys who have been swinging well," manager Mike Scioscia said, addressing the club's recent offensive tailspin. "Bobby Abreu is a table-setter and a guy we set the table for; guys need to bring it every night. The last 10 games or so we've been disappointed with the lack of pressure we've put on teams.
"I don't think it's one guy. For long stretches, especially early in the season, Hideki was our best offensive player. At times he's struggled. We're not far away from what we anticipated with him. It's not anything that's totally out of whack with his swing."
The Angels also need Juan Rivera to pick it up offensively. Back in the lineup after missing six games with blurred vision, Rivera was 1-for-4 on Tuesday night and said he was seeing "much better" than he had been. Rivera, hitting .239 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 69 games, traditionally picks up the pace in the second half -- like Abreu and Matsui.
Napoli behind plate to catch Saunders
CHICAGO -- Having adapted remarkably well to first base in the absence of Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli was back behind the plate on Wednesday night catching Joe Saunders, who has had most of his success this season with Napoli as his receiver.
"It might feel a little weird getting back there again," Napoli said, grinning, having watched Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson do the catching while he's been wearing the first baseman's mitt. "I've really had a good time playing first. I think I'm getting better at it with experience."
Napoli made his most recent start behind the plate on June 15. Saunders has a 3.84 ERA in 75 innings with Napoli, compared to 6.32 ERA with Mathis in 15 2/3 innings and 7.15 ERA with Wilson catching him for 11 1/3 innings.
"Mike's been catching some bullpens," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a guy who can contribute in a number of positions, and catching is one of them. Guys are comfortable with Mike. It's just a matter of getting back there and getting in the flow."
Home Run Derby tickets available
CHICAGO -- Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz. Vernon Wells, Corey Hart and Matt Holliday. These are the confirmed participants in Monday's annual State Farm Home Run Derby at Angel Stadium.
The 5 p.m. PT event will include three more players to be announced in the next few days. Before the Home Run Derby begins, Grammy Award-winning rock band "Train" will perform on the field. The band's hits include "Calling All Angels," a song familiar to Angels fans, and "Hey Soul Sister."
It didn't gain the same attention as their signing of Daniel Cabrera, but on June 30 the Angels signed Eric Junge, a 33-year-old Minor League free-agent right-hander with Major League experience. Appearing in 10 games covering 20 1/3 innings for the Phillies in 2002 and '03, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound native of Manhasset, N.Y., was 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA, striking out 16 and walking six. Junge has a 5.23 ERA at Triple-A Salt Lake after giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 7-5 loss to Tacoma on Tuesday. ... Sean O'Sullivan, sent down to stretch back out into a starter's role, yielded two earned runs in three innings, striking out four hitters. ... Despite playing half their games in a hitter-friendly ballpark, the White Sox have a .406 team slugging percentage compared to the Angels' .405. ... The Angels' on-base percentage of .324 is one point higher than Chicago's. ... Since learning he'll be an All-Star for the fourth time on Sunday, Torii Hunter has gone 7-for-10 with two homers, four runs scored and seven RBIs, reaching base in 10 of 13 plate appearances. Hunter has reached base in 23 of his past 36 plate appearances (.639). ... Since scoring 11 runs on 14 hits on Sunday, the Angels have scored three runs on 15 hits in the two games in Chicago. They're 8-8 overall since winning 15 of 20 games. ... Calling all future Angels: Salt Lake center fielder Peter Bourjos, with a triple and two singles against Tacoma, is batting .487 with 16 runs scored in the past nine games, lifting his season average to .281.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.