ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mike Trout got off to a slow start this season, but his play of late has been on par with his production last season, when he won American League Rookie of the Year honors and finished second in AL MVP voting.
This month alone, Trout has four triples, eight home runs, and eight stolen bases — the only Major Leaguer in history to put up such numbers in any month.
There’s the thought that Trout is back to his old self at the plate because he’s more comfortable being back in center field with regular center fielder Peter Bourjos on the disabled list.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia is not buying that and says when Bourjos returns from a hamstring injury, Trout will move back to left field where he started the season.
“There are moves for individual players that are made for the benefit of the team,” Scioscia said on Thursday. “That happens and I know Mike understands this. I can’t say it any clearer: ‘We know Mike’s a center fielder.’ You’re putting lineups together with the whole team there and I don’t anticipate any significant drop-off because he’s moved from center to left.
“It’s not like he’s a center fielder and we said ‘Mike we need you to catch. Let’s go back there and try to catch and still play offense.’ We’ve taken him from a position he can play very well to a position he can play very well. What’s the difference?”
Trout has made 21 starts in left field this season, including 21 of the Angels first 25 games this season. He’s made 33 starts in center, including the last 29 starts since the Bourjos injury.
Since Bourjos has gone on the DL and Trout has become the everyday center fielder, he’s hitting .333. Eight of his 10 home runs on the season have come during that stint along with 25 RBIs and 19 extra-base hits. He has just nine extra-base hits as a starting left fielder this season.
As a team, the Angels are 18-15 when he starts in center and 7-14 when he starts in left.
Bourjos is expected to begin a rehab assignment early next week and be back in the Angels lineup sometime in the next 10 days. If Trout’s numbers drop after being moved back to left, Scioscia contends it won’t be because he’s not in center field.
“If we put somebody behind him that wasn’t able to protect him on the offensive side or we stopped setting the table for him, I think you have an argument to say his production is going to drop doing that more than what defensive position he’s playing,” Scioscia said.