ANAHEIM, Calif. – This should have been a memorable season for Peter Bourjos, but like the team he plays for, big expectations fell flat.
It wasn’t Bourjos’ fault. Far from it. A summer that looked like his opportunity to bloom as a center fielder and leadoff hitter basically turned to mush.
Bourjos fell victim to injuries that cost him 77 games, the latest a broken right wrist that kept him on the disabled list from June 30 until Friday night’s 8-2 loss to the Houston Astros, the Angels’ ninth defeat in 12 games and fifth in a row at home.
Bourjos’ first game back was hardly auspicious. He grounded out, struck out and hit into a double play in the seventh inning with runners at first and third and one out.
He also collided with the padded center-field wall at Angel Stadium trying to catch a fly ball hit by L.J. Hoes, which went for a triple in the Astros’ four-run ninth.
“Crashing into the wall didn’t help,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He got the wind knocked out of him.”
This season, it’s just more of the same for Bourjos.
Whatever he does from here through September isn’t going to change the fortunes of his team, which has floundered pretty much the entire season and hasn’t been closer than five games to first place in the American League West since April 23.
Now, with the season lost and a long winter ahead, Bourjos is only hoping he can avoid surgery on his wrist and get himself prepared to try again in 2014.
“Obviously that’s the last thing I want to do,” he said of the possibility of surgery. “I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it’s always a possibility. It’s progressed to the point where I think a month from now it should be feeling pretty good.”
As it is, Bourjos is still dealing with the discomfort, but it’s not enough to keep him out of the lineup. He feels twinges of pain doing simple things like opening a water bottle or turning on the car engine. Hitting has its own problems.
“It’s just maybe a pain after a games and maybe when I wake up in the morning, but it doesn’t affect too much of my swing,” he said.
He can deal with it. The frustrating part is wondering if he could have made even a small difference.
He was hitting .313 through April before a strained left hamstring put him on the DL for almost six weeks in May and June. He returned June 10 and hit .370 in 14 games before being hit on the wrist June 30 against the Astros.
And with that, his season hit another wall.
There had been plenty of promise after he hit .271 in 2011, but last season he was the odd man out after the arrival of rookie Mike Trout. Bourjos had just 168 at-bats and batted .220.
“It’s been a frustrating two years, to say the least,” he said. “Going back to last year and not playing a lot, then this year, having an opportunity to play and being hurt because of it. It’s been tough, but it’s nice to be back.”
A healthy Bourjos could not have prevented the disaster this season has become. There were so many other ways it fell apart: failures in the pitching rotation and the bullpen, bad defense, poor situational hitting and injuries. Everything adds up.
“It’s tough to narrow it down to one guy, and it hasn’t come down to one guy,” Scioscia said. “But when you start to put all the spokes in the wheel together and you have it assembled and you start to take out spokes here and there, there’s going to be a tipping point at some time.
“We’ve struggled with keeping all those spokes on the wheel, and Peter is an important spoke. You need to absorb it and move on.”