Angels tinkering with top of batting order

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia wants to put Albert Pujols in the third spot in the batting order, guaranteeing the slugger gets to the plate in the first inning.

"That's the spot that we see him being the most productive," Scioscia said Thursday.

A lot depends on who the Angels find to hit in the first two spots.

"I think we have some guys that are very comfortable setting the table and hitting in front of Albert when they're going to be in the lineup," Scioscia said. "We're not going to mail in the lineups right now. There's a long way to go. There's a lot of versatility in this lineup and we'll see moving forward. I don't think it's going to be an issue, but we'll adjust some of the things with Albert if they become an issue."

Scioscia has mentioned Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis, Peter Bourjos, Alberto Callaspo and Bobby Abreu as top-of-the-order hitters, and even went as far to include Vernon Wells, the player with the American League's lowest batting average (.218) and on-base percentage (.248) last season.

"He can create offense," Scioscia said about Wells. "He runs well. Last year he had some issues trying to get on base and batting average but historically when you look at him he's definitely something to consider."

Wells has a career batting average of .274 and a career on-base percentage of .323. He hit .273 with a .331 on-base percentage in 2010 with Toronto.

Scioscia said Kendrick is "definitely a guy that can hit up there in front of Albert" but also is "a candidate to hit in an RBI spot." The manager added that Abreu, who requested a trade in February, is "going to hit lead off" but earlier projected Abreu to get only 400 plate appearances.

"As far as guys that are going to be in there every day, we don't have the pure on-base percentage guys that maybe some other teams as table setters," Scioscia said. "But we have guys that definitely get on base enough and with their speed are going to be able to create more than some other players just from being able to take extra bases, steal a base."

Aybar led the Angels with 30 stolen bases. Bourjos had 22 and Abreu 21.

Aybar hit .279 with a .322 on-base percentage last season, but hit only .216 with a .284 on-base percentage against left-handers. Bourjos hit .271 with a .327 on-base percentage, and hit .281 with a .323 on-base percentage against left-handers.

"Peter might be a guy that we can match up in front of the lineup," Scioscia said. "Whether Peter's hitting first or hitting ninth, it's all important. If he's really attacking the ball against a left-handed pitcher especially, you might want to have him lead off."