Valbuena says he'll continue to flip his bat

Infielder insists he won't stop just to appease opponents

Valbuena says he'll continue to flip his bat

ANAHEIM -- Angels infielder Luis Valbuena is known for being a liberal bat flipper. He flips his bat on all sorts of occasions -- after home runs, doubles, singles. At least once this season, he did it prematurely on a lineout.

Valbuena said his bat flips have been a part of his game since he was a rookie, a habit generally meant to express his joy for baseball and to celebrate triumphs inside the batter's box.

"I've done it all my life," Valbuena said. "It's natural to me."

On Wednesday night, Valbuena hit his 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot off former Astros teammate Mike Fiers. Predictably, he punctuated the homer with a bat flip, though it didn't sit well with Fiers.

When Valbuena took his next at-bat, Fiers intentionally threw a ball way above and behind Valbuena's head, prompting home plate umpire Cory Blaser to issue warnings to both benches.

Fiers, who admitted afterward that he felt Valbuena had disrespected him, received a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine from Major League Baseball on Thursday for the purpose pitch. He will not appeal the punishment.

"I think the league has been pretty adamant about guys sending messages," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, he took it upon himself to send a message, and the league acted on it."

Valbuena called Fiers "an unbelievable friend" but said that he does not plan on cutting down on his bat flips to appease opponents.

"He knows what I can do, how I play the game," Valbuena said. "Some pitchers don't like it, but I can't control that… I don't want to change my game. He wants me to change my game, but I can't.

"It's hard to hit a home run. I enjoyed my 20th home run. It's not easy. This is only my second year hitting 20 home runs. I enjoy it."

Sciosica said he does not feel the need to talk to Valbuena about his style of play.

"It's an era that we're in," Scioscia said. "Guys do it against us. It's just part of the individual expression that's accepted in today's game."

Worth noting

Andrew Heaney (shoulder impingement) participated in drills Wednesday and is "moving in the right direction," according to Scioscia. Heaney was scratched from his scheduled start on Friday, and it's unclear when he might be fit to rejoin the rotation.

Huston Street (rotator cuff strain) has progressed to throwing in simulated games in Arizona. Street, who has thrown only four innings for the Angels this season, is aiming to return to the Majors before the end of the season.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.