A lot has changed since Erick Aybar was an everyday player in Salt Lake. His old locker, for one, has changed hands plenty of times.
"It's fine," he said. "I like my new one."
Nothing's truly changed about his talent, however, as the shortstop showed Monday night.
Making his first start in a rehab stint with the Bees, the 29-year-old big league shortstop slugged a homer and galloped out a double at the plate. And his smooth hands and powerful arm made even the tough plays look easy none more impressive than a seventh-inning double play he turned, leaping over a sliding runner at second.
The Bees (12-13) couldn't bring it around, however, as they tumbled to their sixth straight defeat in a 12-6 home loss to Colorado Springs (13-9). Pitching depth was the killer in this one: New acquisition Kip Wells gave up seven runs in a two-inning start, and relief never truly came as the Sky Sox ripped 17 hits.
For Aybar, unfortunately, losing has felt a bit too familiar this season. Injuries his included have rippled through the upper tiers of the L.A. Angels organization and hurt their chances for onfield success.
Aybar will be hoping to turn that around in Salt Lake while he's here, but he's also looking for a swift return to the majors to help the 9-15 Angels gain some positive momentum.
"You don't want [injuries] to happen and you feel bad," he said. "But you have to keep going. When you get there, you have to play baseball hard and try to help your team win it."
It was pretty difficult starting point for the Bees offense, down 7-0 after a two-inning blitz by the Sox. New starter Kip Wells got smashed left and right, giving up six straight hits to begin the game and gave up nine in his two innings of work.
The bullpen was left to carry the rest of the game, with mixed success. The Bees got a shot with a furious third-inning rally, a five-run streak that was highlighted by five straight hits.
But 7-6 would be the closest Salt Lake would get. David Carpenter allowed a run each in the fifth and sixth, and Robert Coello couldn't quite close the ninth, giving up three runs with two outs before being swapped out.
Manager Keith Johnson said Aybar's play was encouraging for present and future concerns.
"Obviously the health of the major league club is the No. 1 priority," Johnson said. "Those guys healthy, we get healthier and get some guys back, maybe we can start to get on a roll."
Storylines Sky Sox 12, Bees 6
R The Bees give up 17 hits, including nine in the first two innings.w
• The Sky Sox hammer Bees pitcher Kip Wells in his first start.
• Erick Aybar makes his first start in a rehab assignment, goes 2 for 5 with a homer.