Aybar day to day with left hamstring issue

Aybar day to day with left hamstring issue

ANAHEIM -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was out of the starting lineup, as expected, on Friday against the Tigers, one day after tweaking his left hamstring while running up the first-base line.

Aybar felt just "a pinch" in his leg, and he hopes to return as early as Saturday.

"I woke up feeling better," Aybar said in Spanish. "I won't do anything today. Tomorrow, I'll run. If I'm fine, I'll just play tomorrow."

Aybar's absence prompted young utility infielder Taylor Featherston to start at shortstop and second baseman Johnny Giavotella to move into the leadoff spot.

Aybar, who started each of the first 48 games at shortstop, sustained the hamstring injury after executing a squeeze bunt in Thursday's fifth inning. He jogged back to the dugout gingerly and asked to return to the game, but Featherston took his place the next half-inning. Aybar wanted to start on Friday, but the Angels told him to take the day off entirely.

They'll continue to be cautious.

"He has to get to a level the medical department is comfortable with before we consider working him out to see where he is and getting him into a game," manager Mike Scioscia said. " ... When he pulls up, you're racing in your mind. 'Is this something where he's just going to have to come out for this game, or is it going to be a month?' You just never know with hamstrings. It seems like we're in the day-to-day range right now."

The Angels' offense -- 22nd in the Majors in runs per game and 27th in OPS despite a 12-run output on Thursday -- can ill afford to lose Aybar for an extended period. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has been hitting .351 since May 8 and had settled in at the leadoff spot over the previous 11 days.

Giavotella can lead off in Aybar's place, though Scioscia brought up the possibility of Kole Calhoun returning to the leadoff spot if the left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce stays hot. Featherston will get the majority of playing time at shortstop while Aybar heals and Grant Green can also fill in.

Worth noting
Matt Shoemaker, undrafted out of Eastern Michigan University seven years ago, had his own bobblehead giveaway at Angel Stadium on Friday. The 28-year-old right-hander called it "an honor. It's really humbling and an honor at the same time to say, 'Hey, they wanted to make a bobblehead out of you.' Pretty special."

• Right-handed reliever Chad Smith, 25, was claimed off waivers by the Marlins on Friday. The Angels signed Smith on May 8, then designated him for assignment on Wednesday to make room on the 40-man roster for outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

• Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher returned to the team on Friday, after taking a couple days off to attend his daughter's high school graduation. Triple-A pitching coach Erik Bennett filled for Butcher.

• The organization will host 1,900 at-risk students at Angel Stadium on Monday, as part of an ongoing effort to keep children out of gangs. The kids got the invitation as a reward for improved school attendance and behavior and for staying out of gangs.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.