Kendrick takes All-Star selection in stride

ANAHEIM -- It seems a little fitting.

On the day Angels' second baseman Howie Kendrick was named to his first career All-Star Game, he was in manager Mike Scioscia's lineup at first base in Sunday's series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers to give rookie Mark Trumbo the day off and allow journeyman Russell Branyan to get a start at designated hitter.

Kendrick is the Angels' usual starter at second, but he's done quite a bit of shuffling around this season to accommodate various lineups. More a than a third of his at-bats in 2011 have come when playing first or left field, a new position he picked up when Vernon Wells went down for a month in May.

Now, he got into the All-Star Game on his own merits -- not because the Angels needed a player in or his multi-position capabilities. He's hitting .307 on the year with eight home runs and 26 RBI as the most dangerous hitter in the Halos' lineup. Still, those factors probably made his American League peers' decision a bit easier.

"I think that's something that may add some value to me," Kendrick said Sunday. "I don't mind -- I'm going to take every glove I have with me, just in case, because you never know what might happen."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia did little campaigning for Kendrick in the weeks leading up to Sunday's selection show, but he was quick to praise him before Sunday's game, looking back at all the progress Kendrick has made since first arriving in the big leagues in April 2006.

"It's a process, you know," Scioscia said. "Howie's always been extremely athletic, with a gift to be able to hit the ball, but he's turned himself into a total ballplayer, and I think it's just hard work. That's what put him at this level."

It may seem like Kendrick's been at this level for a while, but the 27-year-old has only had 400 at-bats or more once in a season -- last year. He logged between 250 and 375 at-bats each of the previous four seasons.

His batting average and power numbers are set to comfortably break his previous full-year bests, but Kendrick shied away from saying he expected to get the All-Star nod this year.

"I don't really expect anything in life," said Kendrick, who will turn 28 on the day of the game, July 12. "I try to work hard and keep my nose in the game and whatever happens happens. I'm very thankful -- don't get me wrong -- but I don't think I expected it.

"You can't really expect the things that happen; you just have to work hard and continue to progress as a person and a player."

* Two injured Angels are expected to return in the near future: outfielder Torii Hunter and right-hander Fernando Rodney.

Hunter, who got hit on the top of his left hand in the first inning of Friday's series opener by Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, took swings in the batting cage pregame and is available as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and defensive replacement Sunday, Scioscia said.

Scioscia said Hunter could potentially start Monday's game against the Detroit Tigers. As he headed to the cage, Hunter joked that he took 16 Aleve pills prior to Sunday's game but was feeling fine.

Rodney, who's pitched just once since May 30 and not since June 8, missed a bullpen session last week because of upper-back discomfort, but the Angels still expect him back soon.

"We're optimistic that they're getting a handle on this and he's gonna move forward," Scioscia said. "It's still a process, but he's very close."

* After Sunday's game, the Angels will host a celebrity charity softball game to benefit research for Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. Participating celebrities include former Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey, who organized the event, and former Angels Tim Salmon and Bobby Grich.

Jose Canseco is also scheduled to appear, along with NFL quarterback Vince Young.

Here are the lineups for tonight's 5 p.m. game:


1. Tony Gwynn Jr. CF

2. Rafael Furcal SS

3. Andre Ethier RF

4. Matt Kemp DH

5. James Loney 1B

6. Aaron Miles 2B

7. Trent Oeltjen LF

8. A.J. Ellis C

9. Jamey Carroll 3B


1. Maicer Izturis 2B

2. Erick Aybar SS

3. Bobby Abreu RF

4. Vernon Wells LF

5. Howie Kendrick LF

6. Alberto Callaspo 3B

7. Russell Branyan DH

8. Hank Conger C

9. Peter Bourjos CF