ANAHEIM -- In the beginning of the season, shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Howie Kendrick were supposed to be batting first and second in the Angels' lineup, respectively.
Just a few months later, the duo occupies the lower half of the lineup, with Kendrick usually slotted in the sixth spot and Aybar batting mostly seventh or eighth.
The drop in the order has correlated with a drop in production from the previous year, as well.
On June 4 of last season, the day he returned from the disabled list after straining his right hamstring, Kendrick had a .317 average and a .385 on-base percentage, with 41 strikeouts and 16 walks.
After signing a four-year, $33.5 million contract extension with the Angels in January, Kendrick is hitting just .258 on the season entering Sunday, and is 21st among second baseman in on-base percentage at .287. His nine walks put him at 26th at second base, and his 43 strikeouts are the seventh most at the position.
"That's baseball, man," Kendrick said of his 2012 stats. "If you watch the game and you know the game, you know not every year's going to be the same. You're going to have times where your average is going to be down, and you're going to have times where it's really high. It's just balancing."
Though Kendrick says his plan at the plate is to be aggressive, Angels hitting coach Jim Eppard said he's trying to get Kendrick to be a bit more patient and not swing at as many pitches out of the zone.
Kendrick has been prone to the strikeout throughout his career -- he had a career-high 119 strikeouts in 140 games last season -- but those numbers can drop with better pitch recognition, Eppard said.
"As we do with everybody, we're trying to hit strikes," Eppard said. "And the better job we do at hitting strikes and taking balls, the better we're going to do."
For Aybar, who signed a four-year, $35 million extension in April, his numbers aren't what they were at the same point last year, either.
He had a .305 average and .345 on-base percentage on June 4 of last year, but this season he holds a .221 average (23rd in the league among shortstops) and a .254 on-base percentage (23rd in the league at the position).
Eppard said there were parts of this season where Aybar was feeling a little off at the plate. He wasn't comfortable, and it was hurting his rhythm. But losing a rhythm and finding it again is just a part of the game, Eppard said.
And hitters are always working on trying to find that right feel.
"You hit the ball. You can't really predict what happens," Kendrick said. "I just keep playing. We've still got like 100 games. That's a lot of baseball to play. You just try to put together good at-bats and play the game hard and try to win."
Trout named AL Rookie of the Month for May
ANAHEIM -- Since Mike Trout's callup on April 28, the Angels have a 22-12 record, tied with the Marlins for the best record in the league during that span.
And on Sunday, the rookie was recognized for his early-season accomplishments by being named the American League Rookie of the Month for May.
In 27 games last month, Trout batted .324 with five home runs, six doubles and two triples. He walked 11 times, had 16 RBIs, scored 21 runs and stole eight bases.
He led all qualifying AL rookie batters (minimum 84 plate appearances) in games played, at-bats, batting average, runs, hits, triples, walks and on-base percentage (.385). He was second among AL rookies in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage (.556), and was third in doubles.
"He's mentally tough, but it's as much about controlling yourself as it is about being mentally tough," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said about Trout following Friday night's game.
"He also has the ability to slow the game down when he has to. I think that he doesn't panic in the batter's box, and I think that's what you need to do if you're going to hit in the clutch. And he's shown the ability to do that."
Trout's .324 batting average made him the first Angels rookie to hit .320 or above in May since Reggie Willits hit .330 in 2007, and he is the first Angels rookie with at least 13 extra-base hits in any month since Howie Kendrick had 13 in August of 2006.
He enters Sunday's series finale against the Rangers riding a seven-game hitting streak and has an extra-base hit in five straight.
Mike Scioscia will manage his 2,000th career game when the Angels open up a three-game series against the Mariners on Monday. With that, he'll become the 16th skipper in baseball history to reach the milestone with one organization. Scioscia is 1,094-905 through his first 1,999.
Dating back to an 0-for-3 performance against the Blue Jays on May 3, Torii Hunter has just three hits in his last 45 at-bats, with only one of them bring an extra-base hit (a home run against the Rangers on May 11).
Hunter is struggling to find his timing, he said, and it's not surprising to him that he hasn't been getting more hits.
"It's not fun. I don't like it," Hunter said. "I'm not going to settle for that. I have to just wait. When you try to go get a baseball, it hurts you. When you let the baseball come to you, it feels a lot better. So that's what I'm trying to do, just let the baseball come to me."
John Hester's sixth-inning solo home run was the catcher's first homer as an Angel and his first since Sept. 5, 2010, when he was with the D-backs. It was also the first home run from an Angels catcher since Chris Iannetta hit one against the Twins on April 30.
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.