Notes: Anderson placed on 15-day DL
Willits bats in leadoff spot Friday; Erstad returns to former home
ANAHEIM -- Echoes of the 2002 World Series championship filled Angels Stadium on Friday afternoon in the hours leading up to the home side's taking on the White Sox in a three-game weekend series.One was sentimental: the return of Darin Erstad to Anaheim in a White Sox uniform. The other wasn't nearly as welcome. The Angels announced that left fielder and designated hitter Garret Anderson had undergone an MRI exam at Orange Imaging earlier in the day and was diagnosed with a torn right hip flexor tendon. The injury, suffered while Anderson ran out a ground ball against the Sox in Chicago on April 27, was severe enough to put him on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 28. The club gave no further details as to the severity of the torn tendon. Meanwhile, Anderson's roster spot will be filled by Tommy Murphy, who was en route from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday afternoon and was expected to join the club in time for Friday's game. "It's a big loss," said manager Mike Scioscia. "I think the way our offense has been a little spotty, it's important to get our [hitting attack] back." Scioscia's first adjustment was to move leadoff man Gary Matthews Jr. to Anderson's No. 3 spot in the order. The leadoff role goes to Reggie Willits, who like Matthews is a switch-hitter. Asked about his team's ability to make the adjustment, Scioscia said, "If you look at our World Series and division championship seasons, we've had long stretches of time where we've had to make changes, and we've been able to absorb it. "It's more important than ever to get continuity everywhere in the lineup." As for Matthews' role in the No. 3 hole, Scioscia said, "Right now it's very important to get proactive in front of Vlad [Guerrero] and to set the table ... and to get guys behind him to swing the bat. That'll keep our offense going." The "guys behind him" part of the equation focuses on Casey Kotchman in the No. 5 spot. "I told him he was the guy right now," Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said of Kotchman. "He's just got to get some good pitches to hit. We're not asking him to hit home runs. If they're not going to give him pitches, just be patient and let the next guy do what he can." That would be second baseman Erick Aybar, who enters Friday's game hitting .298 to Kotchman's .242. Kendrick sidelined: The Angels announced shortly after the start of Friday's game that infielder Howie Kendrick had suffered a broken left hand and would be unavailable for seven to 10 days, at which time he will be re-examined. During his layoff, Kendrick's activity will include no batting and no catching.
Kendrick suffered the injury on April 17 in Oakland when he was hit on the hand by a pitch from A's right-hander Chad Gaudin.Willits willing: Willits has been appearing in various spots in the Angels' order, but Friday marked his first game this season in the leadoff role. He did lead off once during a 2006 callup. He said he didn't expect to change his approach at the plate. "For the most part, I'm always just trying to get on base and [later in the game] to move guys over," Willits said. "My whole mindset is to make the pitcher work, to get good hitter's counts." Scioscia has confidence in the rookie outfielder.
"Once he gets his feet on the ground, we know what he can do," the manager said.Erstwhile Angel: Erstad now appears in a black and white uniform, but his demeanor remains calm and even. Asked what sort of reception he expected, the former Halos center fielder said, "I don't expect anything or assume anything. I'm just going to take it as it comes." As he stepped into the batter's box to lead off the game, Erstad was met with a standing ovation by his former home crowd, he doffed his helmet and waved to fans along the first- and third-base lines, then lifted a fly ball to Willits in left field for the first out of the game. Up next: The Angels send right-hander John Lackey (4-2, 2.19 ERA) against White Sox right-hander Jon Garland (0-2, 3.93 ERA) on Saturday in Game 2 of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 12:55 p.m. PT.
Ted Brock is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.