LAA@HOU: Kendrick belts a two-run single to right

ANAHEIM -- The Angels' Saturday lineup for Mets left-hander Jon Niese had an upside-down look.

Leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun, a left-handed hitter, was in the No. 9 spot. Howie Kendrick, who's batted sixth (five games) and seventh (four games) this season, was elevated to the No. 4 spot, with lefty Raul Ibanez dropping to seventh.

In 903 Major League starts, Kendrick has batted fourth just 12 times. And it's not like he's way better against lefties; Kendrick is hitting .292 in his career against right-handed pitchers, and .293 against left-handers. 

Erick Aybar, the usual No. 9 hitter, was moved up to sixth. Collin Cowgill, who's now platooning with recently recalled J.B. Shuck in left, led off for the third time. The Angels have a 2-0 mark with Cowgill opening; the first two instances were days off for Calhoun.

Without left fielder Josh Hamilton for six to eight weeks, "we're going to mix and match a little," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We think we'll still be able to keep the length in the lineup that we want."

But Calhoun won't always drop against left-handers.

"I think Cole would certainly lead off against left-handers," Scioscia said. "What we're trying to do today is get the righties to the top."

As for Aybar, the switch-hitter has always had more power batting right-handed. Scioscia says he's "one guy we'd consider leading off, especially against left-handers."

Don't expect the Angels manager to go the full Joe Maddon route, but Scioscia's lineups sans Hamilton figure to have considerable variance.

De La Rosa ready to get to work out of bullpen

LAD@LAA: De La Rosa exits with forearm tightness

ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia showed remarkable restraint Friday night when, in an 11-inning game, he did not call upon reliever Dane De La Rosa, his workhorse right-hander in 2013 who had just been reactivated from the disabled list.

"If the game had gone on, Dane would've been in there," Scioscia said before Saturday's game against the Mets. "But obviously the ideal thing is, I'd like to get him an inning [in another situation], just to get his feet on the ground."

De La Rosa, 31, appeared in 75 games last season, his first in the Angels organization after coming over from Tampa Bay in a trade for pitcher Steve Geltz. The 6-foot-7 right-hander went 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA and two saves.

But De La Rosa missed this season's first nine games because of inflammation in his right elbow.

"It feels great," he said Saturday.

Asked when he felt he was ready, De La Rosa said: "I was ready yesterday."

Asked when he knew he was OK after the scare he received pitching in an exhibition game, he said: "I was OK, then they told me about an hour before the game [that I was reactivated]."

As for his rehab, De La Rosa said: "Everything went pretty smooth as far at the timeline."

So it's back to business when Scioscia beckons.

"I'll be pitching a lot," De La Rosa said.

De La Rosa retired one of the three batters he faced in the ninth inning of Saturday's 13-inning loss to the Mets. After walking Ike Davis, he got Lucas Duda to fly out. Juan Lagares then singled, and both runners scored on Omar Quintanilla's bases-loaded single against Kevin Jepsen.

Worth noting

• With reliever Nick Maronde optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, the Angels don't have a left-hander in the bullpen, although they have three in the starting rotation.

The latter hasn't happened since Chuck Finley, Jim Abbott and Mark Langston were together in the early 1990s. The former is not an unusual occurrence in Scioscia's 15 seasons as manager.

"We've often had right-handers at the back of the bullpen who could get left-handers out," said Scioscia, who believes that is the case again this season. "There's always going to come up in games, without a left-hander, where other teams are going to try to exploit it."

• Scioscia on outfielder Shuck, who celebrated the end of his brief Triple-A demotion with a two-run homer Friday off Dillon Gee: "That was one of the toughest cuts we've had in 15 years here."

Shuck hit .293 as a rookie in 2013 and finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. But, when Hamilton was healthy, along with Calhoun, the Angels didn't feel they needed three lefty-swinging outfielders.

"We had pieces we felt were a good fit, and felt the bench we picked was a good bench," Scioscia said. "We had the versatility we wanted."