Angels look to sweep Athletics (Aug 30, 2017)

BY AP • August 30, 2017

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There is a good chance that Kaleb Cowart will be in the starting lineup at second base for the Los Angeles Angels when they attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.

It would be his 19th start at second base in August, an anomaly for the Angels considering their recent history with the position.

Cowart is among 12 players who have played second base for the Angels since they traded Howie Kendrick after the 2014 season.

Kendrick started at second on Opening Day for eight consecutive seasons before Johnny Giavotella started the 2015 and 2016 openers. Danny Espinosa was the club's starter this season but was released July 20 after hitting .162 in 77 games.

That opened the door for Cowart, a highly regarded first-round draft pick in 2010 who forced the club to be patient with his development. He began in the organization as a third baseman, but the club tried to give him a better chance to find a place on the big league roster by introducing him to other positions.

At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he isn't the prototypical second baseman, but his athleticism has allowed him to play the position. Cowart probably still is more comfortable as a third baseman, and he has played one game at first base.

"Kaleb is very athletic, and (his playing time) is going to depend on how he swings the bat," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If he swings the bat like we feel he's capable of, he can find a home at third, second, anywhere. He can move around and play, or play one position.

"Kaleb is a guy who's getting a lot of looks right now, and he's holding up well."

Cowart is a switch hitter but has been much better from the left side. He is hitting .244 with three home runs and 10 RBIs overall, but he is batting .265 with all nine of his extra-base hits, including five doubles and one triple, coming from the left side.

That helps him get starts against right-handed pitchers, who make up most of the starters in the league. He and the rest of the Angels' hitters will be matched up against A's right-hander Kendall Graveman on Wednesday.

Graveman (4-4, 4.24 ERA) has pitched well against Los Angeles this season, going 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts. However, all three of those outings occurred before he missed 2 1/2 months with a strained shoulder.

The extended stay on the disabled list was not easy for the 26-year-old Mississippi State product.

"Competition is something that I love, and when you're not having competition in any aspect of life, I think it drives everyone crazy," Graveman told the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.

Parker Bridwell, the Angels' 26-year-old rookie and biggest pleasant surprise of the season, will take the mound against the A's. He is 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA, and just as important, the team is 11-2 in games he started. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his past nine starts.

The Angels acquired Bridwell from the Baltimore Orioles in April for cash considerations, Scioscia not knowing at the time that the deal was a steal.

"None of us ever saw him throw a ball," Scioscia said last week. "We had heard about him, but I know that (general manager) Billy Eppler was excited when we had an opportunity to get him because he saw the upside, and you're seeing that right now."

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