Injury, power outage add up to trying season for Trumbo
SEP 03, 2014 5:49p ET
PHOENIX -- Mark Trumbo knows what you are thinking.
He is thinking the same thing.
"Sure," he said.
"I'm a guy who's known for hitting home runs. When you are not hitting home runs, you think about it. But I also know that you are not going to hit those home runs by selling out and doing it. Usually they come when you are locked into a good approach more than anything."
Trumbo had 29, 32 and 34 homers in his three full seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, and his winter acquisition made perfect sense for a team looking to add depth and protection to a lineup featuring Paul Goldschmidt.
It started off well. Trumbo homered in the second game in Australia and homered in four games in a row back in the States starting April 3, becoming the first in the major leagues to five homers despite playing through plantar fasciitis. One injury gave way to another, and Trumbo missed more than 11 weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot that forced him onto the disabled list on April 24.
After hitting seven homers before going on the disabled list, Trumbo has one since returning, a three-run shot against Colorado on Aug. 9. The 79- and 74 at-bat droughts on the either side of that homer are the longest of his career.
"It's a tough deal, and it's a valid question," Trumbo said. "Do I try to alter things and start driving the ball a little more, or do I stay with what I've been doing? For me, I know I was brought here to do a job. I'm going to try to have as productive at-bats as I can from here on out.
"I probably won't alter things too much, but definitely in the offseason I'll probably sit down and look at more film and whatnot and see if some things aren't quite adding up as far as the swing and driving the ball goes."
At the same time, Trumbo's RBI rate has remained virtually the same as in his three previous years with the Angels. He's hitting .238 with 39 RBI in 239 at-bats this season, averaging an RBI every 6.1 at-bats, virtually identical to his rate from 2011-13. His walk rate (9.0 percent) is at a career high this season, and his strikeout rate (24.3) is down from the last two seasons.
The only missing part of the equation, it seems, is the long ball. Trumbo has worked to use the whole field this season and is hitting the ball to the opposite field more than ever. It is part of an adjustment he brought into spring training in an attempt to cut down on his strikeouts, which reached a career-high 184 in 2013.
"This feels like my normal swing, but from my results, things are probably not in optimum position at times to drive the ball," he said. "But I feel like because I am having some success, I don't feel like it is really worth tinkering with at this point. I don't feel like me sacrificing quality at-bats for the sake of hitting a few home runs, especially with how we are going right now, makes a lot of sense."
Like most power hitters, Trumbo's home runs come in bunches. With 95 homers the last three seasons, he had bunches of bunches. Trumbo had four homers in five games and five in eight around the 2011 All-Star break. He homered in four consecutive games and in six of nine games in late May and early June in 2012. He had six in eight games in mid-July that year. He had five in six games and six in eight in late April and early May 2013. He had four in six games twice later in the season.
The start of the 2014 season was more of the same, until the injury derailment.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he believes Trumbo might be feeling added pressure to produce.
"When you are not scoring runs and you are the number four hitter and there are guys on base, absolutely," Gibson said. "He is working on a lot of things. You add it all up together, it's been hard for him."
Trumbo, 28, is not willing to go there.
"I'd love to hit more home runs, but I don't feel any pressure to do it," he said. "I'd love to contribute. I'd love to get as many hits as I can of any variety and drive in a bunch of runs. I've done it before. I'll do it again. I just don't know how soon. You put in the work, and you trust it is the right plan. And you go out there and let everything take care of itself.
"I wouldn't say it's an issue. It's just a thing. I can't force it, other than trying to hit the ball on the nose. By the same token, I could hit seven or eight in a month. I know that is always in the bag, too. Just have to be patient. I think things will come as they are supposed to. I fully anticipate coming back next year and driving the ball the way I can, but it's kind of what you go through at times."