NEW YORK -- Erick Aybar noticed a change in his stance as he struggled through the onset of the regular season, with a .175 batting average through his first 17 games.
The switch-hitting shortstop was crouched too low, particularly from the left side of the plate. So he showed up at Nationals Park early on Monday, worked on staying more upright during batting practice and suddenly took off. Heading into the second game of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium, Aybar has registered multiple hits in four straight games, compiling 11 of them in 17 at-bats to raise his batting average by 100 points.
On Friday he hit a three-run shot for his first home run since September of last season, and on Saturday he batted in the No. 5 spot for the second time in three games.
"I'm standing up a little bit more now," Aybar said. "I was crouched down too much, chasing pitches and not able to hit with much power when I do make contact. I've always been more upright, and I just got back to doing that. Hopefully, I can keep this going."
Scioscia not worried about Trout's K rate
NEW YORK -- The only part of Mike Trout's offensive game that could warrant even the slightest bit of criticism is his strikeout rate, and it certainly isn't any better in the early part of 2014.
Entering Saturday's contest against the Yankees, Trout had struck out a team-leading 28 times in his first 22 games, including 12 times in the first seven games of this road trip. He's tied for 11th in the Majors in punchouts and sports a strikeout rate of 27.5 percent, compared with 20.3 percent the previous two years.
But the 22-year-old center fielder isn't necessarily chasing pitches, swinging at 25.1 percent outside the strike zone after swinging at 24.2 percent last season, and has still posted a very solid .301/.363/.559 slash line.
Oh, and the season is only 14 percent complete.
"It's a small sample," manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout, who hit his sixth homer in his first at-bat on Saturday. "I think for guys who work counts, usually there are strikeouts that might follow from some point to the other. I think you worry about strikeouts when they're not balanced by walks or production, and I think he's doing OK in those other departments."
De La Rosa, Burnett fine after sim games
NEW YORK -- Rehabbing relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett both threw a simulated game in Arizona on Thursday and both "came out of it fine," manager Mike Scioscia relayed from Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning.
However, neither is particularly close just yet.
Burnett has experienced a couple of setbacks in his quest to return from August elbow surgery and hasn't appeared in an official game since late May of last season. De La Rosa was delayed in Spring Training because of a strained right forearm and is now working his way back from tightness near his collar bone that Scioscia said "isn't anything that's going to impact long-term what he needs to do."
Asked which of the two is farther ahead in his rehab, Scioscia said, "At first, Dane was closer. Sean's making a lot of progress, but there's still some work to do with both of them, so it's tough to say who's really projecting closer. Dane still has the probability of coming a little quicker because he has more behind him than Sean."
• Corner outfielders Kole Calhoun (right ankle sprain) and Josh Hamilton (left thumb surgery) are "making progress," Scioscia said. Calhoun is rehabbing in Arizona, though he's still in a walking boot. Hamilton is in a cast and hasn't been able to swing the bat yet, but is doing weights and running exercises.
• Scioscia still expects Angels hitting coach Don Baylor to join the team when it returns home at some point in the three-game series against the Indians, which runs Monday to Wednesday. But he's still a ways away from being able to be in the dugout during games. "He's up on everything," Scioscia said of Baylor. "It won't take him any time at all to get up to speed."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.