Josh Hamilton is hitting seventh tonight for the Angels

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Josh Hamilton struck out twice and grounded into three double plays in the Angels’ 3-2 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday and is now sporting a putrid .213/.269/.388 batting line through 69 games this season. So some changes are being made.

Hamilton will bat seventh Wednesday as the Halos take on the M’s for the third game of a four-game set. It’s the first time he has hit there with Anaheim and just the 20th time he has hit seventh in his career. Mark Trumbo is at cleanup, Howie Kendrick is batting fifth and Alberto Callaspo will hit sixth.

Hamilton has 10 home runs in 294 plate appearances this season but he also has 73 strikeouts.

The 32-year-old outfielder signed a five-year, $125 million free agent contract with Anaheim this winter.

More position players have pitched this year than ever

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Yesterday, in Milwaukee, utilityman Hernan Perez pitched two scoreless innings, and backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched one himself, mopping up in a blowout loss to the Dodgers. In doing so they became the 31st and 32nd position players to pitch this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most position players who have taken the mound in a season in the Expansion Era, which began in 1961. Presumably far fewer ever did so when the league had only 16 teams.

It’s pretty remarkable to set that record now, in this age of 13 and sometimes 14-man pitching staffs. That’s especially true when teams shuttle guys back and forth from the minors more often than they ever have before and when, due to the shortened, 10-day disabled list, it’s easier to give guys breaks because of “injuries” than it ever has been.

Pitcher usage is driving this, however. While teams carry far more relievers than they ever have before, they actually carry far fewer swingmen or mopup men who are capable of throwing multiple innings in a blowout to save other pitchers’ arms. Rather, teams focus on max-effort, high-velocity relievers who go one or two innings tops, thus requiring catchers and utility guys to help do the mopping that actual pitchers used to do.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing necessarily — some of these backup catchers throw harder than a lot of pitchers did 30 years ago and it’s always kind of fun to see a position player pitch — but it is yet another way the game has changed due to a focus on specialization and velocity when it comes to pitchers.