ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When everyone is healthy and the Los Angeles Angels' offense is clicking, Kole Calhoun is the No. 2 hitter, right after Yunel Escobar and right before Mike Trout.
However, when the Angels take on the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, Calhoun likely will be in the leadoff position, a spot not totally unfamiliar to him but something that is new to him this season.
With Escobar going to the disabled list earlier this week, the leadoff spot became vacant and Calhoun moved atop the order Monday. It is a place he likely will be except when the club is facing a left-handed pitcher. The good news for Calhoun is that when he bats leadoff, he still has Trout hitting behind him, so chances are Calhoun is going to get pitches to hit.
Hitting in front of Trout hasn't seemed to help much so far this season, as Calhoun is off to a slow start. Though he has five home runs and is on pace to finish with 19 -- one more than last season -- the other numbers don't look all that good.
He's hitting just .219 and has a .290 on-base percentage, not exactly ideal for a leadoff hitter. The good news for Calhoun is that there are signs he is starting to hit like the Calhoun the Angels have come to expect.
His three-run homer in the first game of the series Monday against the White Sox jump-started the Angels on their way to a victory. He will be facing White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez on Wednesday, against whom Calhoun is 2-for-9 lifetime with a home run and a double.
"I feel like I've had some pretty solid contact but not getting a lot to fall in," Calhoun said. "But that's the ups and downs of the season. I just want to help the team win games."
Calhoun said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup.
"It doesn't really make a difference, you try to keep the same approach, try to do the same thing -- you want to get on base and kind of help the offense move," he said. "So I don't really change much."
Calhoun has a tough act to follow in the leadoff hole after Cameron Maybin's efforts Tuesday. With left-hander Derek Holland starting for the White Sox, Maybin batted first and went 5-for-6 with two runs and two RBI in the Angels' 7-6, 11-inning win.
Gonzalez (3-3, 3.83 ERA) has had success against nearly all of the Angels' hitters, including Trout, who is hitting just .158 (3-for-19) against him. However, all three of the hits by Trout are home runs.
Gonzalez is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in six career starts against the Angels, but he goes into the game trying to figure some things out. After winning his first three decisions of the season, he has lost his last three, giving up 14 runs (13 earned) in 17 2/3 innings.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria, though, has faith in Gonzalez, who was a draft choice of the Angels in 2005 and pitched for the Baltimore Orioles for four seasons before joining Chicago last season.
"(Earning a spot in the rotation) was probably a surprise (for others) because maybe people just didn't have any expectations," Renteria told the Chicago Tribune. "But when you talk to him and see him prepare and see him pitch, he's pretty focused. He enjoys what he does. He's very relaxed. But really he has an intent to go out and attack the strike zone.
"He's a strike-thrower, stays down in the zone, mixes his pitches well. He's a veteran pitcher that has an idea of what he needs to do to get through the ballgame."
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox, will start for the Angels.
Shoemaker (2-2, 4.50 ERA) enjoyed his best outing of the season Friday, shutting out the Detroit Tigers over six innings in a 7-0 win. He has pitched more than six innings in just one of his eight starts this year.
Angels' Calhoun likely to lead off vs. White Sox