ANAHEIM –Brandon Phillips was not in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Texas Rangers, triggering a dramatic change at the top of the Angels’ batting order. Cliff Pennington took over for Phillips at second base, but that was to be expected.
What was different?
Center fielder Mike Trout batted in the leadoff position for the first time since 2013, which gave the Angels a vastly different look for the second game of their three-game series against the Rangers. Whether he remained there was to be determined.
Manager Mike Scioscia said he hoped Phillips would be sound enough to play Sunday in the series finale. Phillips was forced from the Angels’ victory Friday over the Rangers because of tightness in his lower back after a seventh-inning at-bat.
“He’s feeling better today, but not enough where he can go out and do the things he can do, but he’s day to day,” Scioscia said of Phillips, who is 9 for his past 26 (.346) with three doubles and is hitting .259 with three doubles and three RBIs in 13 games since the Angels acquired him from Atlanta.
The Angels were desperate for more punch from the second base position after Pennington, Danny Espinosa and Kaleb Cowart manned it until Phillips joined the club after a Aug. 31 trade. But more than raw numbers went into the acquisition of the 36-year-old Phillips, according to Scioscia.
“His presence goes beyond what he does out there on the field,” he said. “Most importantly to us is we need the production. He’s swinging the bat well, doing a great job for us. An added bonus is his demeanor. He’s played for a long time. He understands the game.
“He’s a really settling influence to a lot of a guys of guys out there.”
Andrew Heaney played catch for the first time since Tuesday and the Angels hope to “start to get an idea of where he is in the next three or four days,” Scioscia said. Heaney has been sidelined by a shoulder impingement and missed his turn in the rotation Friday.
Scioscia said a repeat of Friday’s all-hands-on-deck pitching performance is likely because the Angels don’t have many options. Bud Norris started and pitched two innings before turning the game over to his fellow relievers in an eventual 7-6 victory.
It remains to be seen whether Norris will get another start. It could be another reliever. One thing is certain. It’s unlikely a starter out of the bullpen will be asked to throw more than two or three innings at this late stage in…