Angels hoping Cron kicks slow start

Angels hoping Cron kicks slow start

OAKLAND -- C.J. Cron's 2016 season is starting off similarly to his 2015 season.

The Angels hope he recovers a lot quicker.

Cron has only two hits in his first 26 at-bats, striking out five times, drawing zero walks and prompting Angels manager Mike Scioscia to start Ji-Man Choi in his place -- at designated hitter -- for Tuesday's game against the A's.

A year ago, Cron, didn't get hot until about July, after batting .204 through the first two months and getting optioned twice.

Cron came off the bench to draw a key walk in the ninth inning, just ahead of teammate Geovany Soto's two-run home run that gave the Angels a 5-4 victory.

Scioscia said he just wants Cron to "exhale a little bit," and that he expects him to return to the lineup for the Wednesday afternoon series finale from the Coliseum.

"We need him," Scioscia said. "We need him. You saw in the second half last year, when he came up, how important he was to us. Right now, he's just not where he will be."

Albert Pujols started his second consecutive game at first base, a position he didn't play in the regular season's first week and one he started at just twice throughout Spring Training.

The 36-year-old picked up the first stolen base -- for him and his team -- in Monday night's 4-1 victory over the A's, then shot some hoops with Draymond Green and Steph Curry of the Warriors on Tuesday afternoon.

Pujols is a full five months removed from surgery to his right foot, and his legs seem to be feeling lighter.

"It's just good to be back out there on the field," Pujols said. "Whenever I feel good, I'm going to be out there on the field."

Worth noting

• Tyler Skaggs is scheduled to pitch four innings in his next start for Triple-A Salt Lake, which would fall on Friday. He would then make back-to-back five-inning starts, lining him up to potentially return to the Major Leagues by early to mid-May.

• Despite a Thursday off day, Scioscia will keep his rotation in order, with Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver and Nick Tropeano starting the upcoming weekend series in Minnesota, respectively. They'll each take the mound with an extra day of rest.

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.