With the dog days of baseball upon us and the Angels struggling, the Halos have called up several prospects in an effort to jump start the club.
It’s a difficult situation trying reinvigorate a team missing some of its key pieces because to injury and fighting to earn your keep at the same time. A few of the new faces have managed to balance both as of late.
J.B. Shuck’s glove has made it difficult for manager Mike Scioscia to leave him out of the lineup. Shuck made one of the best catches all season last week to rob Jose Bautista of a home run and it’s likely to be replayed through the rest of the season. Kole Calhoun came up to the big club after a torrid month of July, in which he hit .382 with six home runs and 18 RBI for triple-A Salt Lake.
“(Calhoun) has made some huge mechanical adjustments in his swing,” Scioscia said. “He slowly has gotten his swing shorter, more compact and I think right now he’s swinging the bat better than he ever has in his life.”
Calhoun has been a fixture in the leadoff spot, batting .300 with eight runs and six RBI in his first 13 games. Scioscia thinks he could be a key piece at the top of the order that would allow Mike Trout to bat third.
“You have to find those table-setters if you want Mike hitting third,” Scioscia said. “You have to find those table setters to push him back down. I think Kole Calhoun has done a good job of finding ways (to get on).”
Shuck as well has come on strong is among the American League rookie leaders in hits, runs, doubles and triples.
But it’s a unique pressure they face: The playoffs are still within reach for the club and it’s as much about helping the Angels reach that goal as it is their individual stats. Shuck and Calhoun have been more productive as of late than Josh Hamilton, but should that playoff run occur, do the struggling stars get the start over the hot rookies?
“This team has team has been stacked since before I’ve been here and it’s been a tough lineup to crack,” Calhoun said. “Now I’m getting a little bit of opportunity to get in there and just make the most of it.”