Angels’ Izturis, Aybar a pleasant surprise

Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis.
Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis have carried the team.

In an Angels offense consisting of many young players looking to cement their places in Mike Scioscia’s lineup, a couple of veteran players have stepped forward and shown the rookies how to make a splash in The Show.

No, it’s not Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu or Vernon Wells.

To the pleasant surprise of many Angels fans, the big guns on the Angels are the little guys: Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis.

Izturis, who in seasons past has been prone to campaign-shortening injuries, stepped forward in a big way to start the 2011 season. Currently batting .319, he has come through with plenty of clutch hits for an Angels offense in desperate need of runs. His latest late-game heroics came in the form of a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over Texas on May 14.

Aybar, who has only played 27 games in 2011 because of an early injury, has been on fire since his return. He boasts a .351 average in the batter’s box and has already reached 14 RBIs, a figure that ranks sixth on the Angels. He nearly hit for the cycle against the Rangers in Sunday’s game.

Aybar backs up his suddenly intimidating presence at the plate with a flair for the spectacular at shortstop, saving plenty of runs for Angels pitching along the way.

Aybar and Izturis have come forward in a season which has seen the Angels’ top slugger, Kendrys Morales, continue his stint on the disabled list for the rest of 2011. In addition, big acquisition Wells is out with a groin injury he suffered when he was beginning to warm up. Hunter, who is tied for first on the team with 19 RBIs, has nevertheless been a letdown as well, grounding into a major league-worst 12 double plays.

And while Izturis and Aybar pick up the slack with their stellar play, younger players like Alberto Callaspo, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo will feel a little less pressure to hone their already impressive skills.

As the Angels endure a bit of a rough patch – having lost four of their last six games as of Sunday – fans will still continue to watch two stalwart Angels lead the charge as Scioscia irons out the wrinkles.

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