BOSTON -- Trying something new during trying times, manager Mike Scioscia canceled batting practice before Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
After watching his team go 3-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the previous five games, Scioscia said he figured it couldn't hurt to put them back in a youthful American Legion frame of mind where they'd "show up, stretch and play."
"We've been grinding," Scioscia said. "We've got guys who need to relax. Hopefully they'll go out and have a good day. Sometimes when you have a team that is struggling, less is more. We had extra batting practice yesterday along with regular BP. If anything, our guys are working a little too hard. Sometimes when you take BP in the cage, it gives you a different perspective."
Reggie Willits, hitting .279 with a .353 on-base percentage, was in center field for Peter Bourjos, the ultra-swift rookie who is struggling to find hits while playing superb defense. Torii Hunter remained in right, where he made a spectacular catch in the series opener to rob Adrian Beltre of a home run.
"Once he gets comfortable, he will contribute from the offensive side," Scioscia said of Bourjos, who is batting .122 in 12 games. "Any experience a guy gets in the Major Leagues has to help him. We have Reggie as an option to take a little pressure off Peter. Peter's going to play most of the games in center field."
Bell to make spot start Saturday vs. Twins
BOSTON -- Trevor Bell, assuming he's not needed in an emergency relief role over the next three days, will be the Angels' starting pitcher on Saturday in Minnesota in a 1:10 PT nationally-televised game on FOX, manager Mike Scioscia said on Wednesday.
Bell, who worked three scoreless innings on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, will be making his fourth start of the season. He went 5 1/3 innings in back-to-back outings at Baltimore and Detroit on Aug. 3 and 8, yielding a total of six earned runs while walking three and striking out nine.
"I feel like my stuff, as far as commanding all my pitches, is getting where I need it to be," said Bell, whose meal ticket is a 91-94 mph four-seam fastball he puts in good locations. "All three [secondary pitches] weren't in sync earlier in the year. If my breaking ball was working, my two-seamer or changeup weren't. Right now, I can use all three and feel comfortable with them.
"Things are feeling good. I'm going to keep on an even keel. I got in the mid-80s in my pitch count in Detroit and felt strong enough to keep going. If they want me to go 100, I feel I could get there, definitely."
Bell, the Angels' No. 1 pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, has been primarily a starter through his Minor League career but adapted well to the bullpen last season with Los Angeles. In 18 relief appearances this season, he's 1-1 with a 4.81 ERA across 24 1/3 innings.
Struggling Aybar gets night off vs. Boston
BOSTON -- Erick Aybar, with four hits in 30 at-bats since launching a home run in Detroit on Aug. 7, was given Wednesday night off at Fenway Park. Maicer Izturis replaced him at shortstop after Aybar left the bases loaded twice with inning-ending outs while hitting in the No. 6 spot in a 6-0 loss in Tuesday's series opener.
"Erick's swing is too big from both sides, particularly the right side," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got a little bit of power and that can be a double-edged sword for guys who aren't prototypical power hitters.
"He has to bring what he does best -- using the whole field, being selective, getting on base for us and using his speed. He's going to work on shortening his swing here a little bit, get some rhythm going."
Aybar was one of the American League's most productive second-half hitters last season, batting .328 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .437 slugging mark in 70 games. His numbers this season in 29 second-half games pale in comparison: .225 AVG., .270 OBP and .333 SLG.
With a third-inning homer Wednesday night, Mike Napoli became the 18th catcher in Major League history with 20 or more in three consecutive seasons. Napoli and the Braves' Brian McCann are the only catchers (minimum 70 games behind the plate) to hit 20 or more homers in 2008 and '09. ... The Angels, at 60-60, are 13 games behind the pace they were setting last season en route to 97 wins and a third consecutive American League West title. ... The Red Sox have outscored the Angels 48-16 in taking the first five games at Fenway Park. ... The Majors' best road team the past two seasons with 50 wins in '08 and 47 (tying the Phillies) last season, the Angels are 27-33 in unfriendly environs and have won only five of the past 21 heading into Wednesday night's game. ... The Twins are sending southpaw Brian Duensing, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker out this weekend in Minneapolis, the Angels countering with Dan Haren, Trevor Bell and Jered Weaver, in that order. It will be the Angels' first visit to the Twins' sparkling new ballpark, Target Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.