Stewart expects big things of Trumbo in 2015
PHOENIX — Dave Stewart has some news for anyone who believes Mark Trumbo is a better fit in the American League.
Trumbo isn’t going nowhere, except maybe to a different corner of the outfield.
Trumbo might not have had the season he wanted in his first year in the National League, in large part because of an injury that cost him 11 weeks, but the Diamondbacks’ new general manager is a big believer.
"You have to like him," Stewart said.
"You have to like the potential. This is a guy who has 30-plus home runs in two seasons. You have to like that kind of player. And he’s a young player, so we should not be the ones to miss out on his potential."
Trumbo was acquired to accompany first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the order, but the D-backs’ best-laid plans were sabotaged by a worst-case scenario, in which Trumbo and Goldschmidt missed more than 50 games apiece. The two suited up together for only 39 games, and without their production the D-backs scored only 615 runs, 25th in the majors.
Trumbo slashed .235/.293/.415 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI, and his power came in streaks. He had seven homers in the first 21 games of the season and six in the last 12 while playing first base almost exclusively after Goldschmidt was lost for the season Aug. 1.
With Goldschmidt back at first in 2015, Stewart said the D-backs will consider playing Trumbo in right field rather than left, where he was stationed prior to Goldschmidt’s injury. Trumbo played 293 games at first base, 75 in left field and 64 in right in his three full seasons (2011-13) with the Los Angeles Angels, where he hit 29, 32 and 34 homers, respectively.
"He’s playing left field, which is a difficult position to play," Stewart said. "At some point, we may have to see if he is a better right fielder. If he is a better right fielder, that may give him peace of mind and comfort, which will make him a better hitter. We have to look at all possibilities to put our players in the best position we can to get the best we can out of them."
A move to right field would not seem to be much of a stretch given the versatility of the D-backs’ roster. Rookies David Peralta and Ender Inciarte showed aptitude in all three outfield positions this season, moving around because of the injuries to Trumbo, center fielder A.J. Pollock and Cody Ross. Pollock will be the starting center fielder next season, Stewart said. Ross has played all three in his career, although he is more a corner outfielder now.
Trumbo has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, one of the reasons then- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers made the deal that sent left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox in the three-team transaction on Dec. 10, 2013.
A little more that four months later, Trumbo was forced to the disabled list because of a stress fracture in his left foot that first manifested as plantar fasciitis in spring training and gradually worsened. He returned the weekend before the All-Star break, but his home-run power did not.
Trumbo averaged a career best one RBI every 5.4 at-bats this season but saw his batting average fall to .184 in late July before beginning a turnaround that included 22 RBI in September.
"It’s my first go-round with an injury and coming off an injury," Trumbo said. "Hopefully I’ll never have to do it again, but if I do I’ll probably have some different thoughts on preparation and mindset. There are no tried and true methods. Some guys (come back and) tear the cover off the ball and some guys don’t. I was one of the guys that didn’t. I look forward to next year and having a clean slate and a healthy go at it. You want to stay healthy. That’s where your value lies.
"You want to contribute. You want to feel like a contributor, and it has been an extremely rough year. If it can end on a high note and go into the offseason with a little more confidence and a frame of mind, you are that much better for it."
The D-backs had a strong belief in their team last spring, Trumbo said, and a 64-98 season will not change that. It could even provide some fuel.
"You don’t want to be embarrassed. You never want to be embarrassed," he said.
"I think coming in this year we thought we were a contending team, and I think that is exactly how we are going to feel next year. Not everyone will agree with that, but I think as far as the players and staff and management go, we have high expectations."