D-backs' Trumbo likes the fit in right field
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Trumbo welcomes the move from left field to right. Doing the right (field) thing just seems, well, right.
"Comfort-wise, I do feel a little bit better in right field than left," said Trumbo, who is right-handed. "It could be a lot to do with the angles, going to the (foul) line and going to my glove side, whereas in left field you are going across your body a lot. I've talked to a few guys on that. Some guys disagree, but I feel like I do come in on the ball and go the line better on my glove side than against it. If I'm better out there, it makes more sense."
If the move helps Trumbo continue his production at the plate, the D-backs are all for it. Although Trumbo missed 11 weeks before the All-Star break last season with a hairline fracture in his left foot, he had 14 home runs and 61 RB1 in 88 games. His RBI rate was a career-best 5.4 per at-bat, and his strikeout rate was a career low. The D-backs have not settled on a lineup but Trumbo figures to hit in a production spot along with Paul Goldschmidt and perhaps Yasmany Tomas.
D-backs manager Chip Hale had plenty of exposure to Trumbo as the bench coach for Oakland in 2012-13, Trumbo's last two years with the Angels. Trumbo had 29, 32 and 34 home runs in his three full seasons with the Angels, which perhaps was lost on those who judge him only by his slightly-more-than-half-season with the D-backs.
"We talk about all our potential offensive stars, sometimes he gets forgotten," Hale said. "Trumbo has done it. He's hit 34 home runs in Anaheim, so he knows what he is doing. He's a power guy. He drives guys in. Those guys are really, really hard to come by. I do think he's undersold here a little bit, and maybe that's good for us. Maybe he can sneak up on people."
Trumbo is unlikely to sneak up on pitchers who have been paying attention. He averages a home run every 18.8 at-bats and an RBI every 5.9 in his major league career. Only Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (both 5.1) had a better RBI ratio than Trumbo's 5.4 last season. Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche (5.4) and Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton (5.4) were right there.
"I was proud of the RBI total," said Trumbo, 6-feet-4 and 235 pounds. "Some people might not be into that, but I'm heavily into that. It's opinions, but I like driving in runs and I like doing some of the things that I was brought here to do."
Trumbo had 87-, 95- and 102-RBI seasons with the Angels, where he was more often a first baseman. Still, he also played 74 games in left field and 65 in right, convincing Angels manager Mike Scioscia. D-backs manager Dabe Stewart also had personal experience about the challenges of left field when former client and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was moved from center field to left.
"From my conversations with Mike Scioscia, (Trumbo) is much better in right field than he is in left field, which was part of the decision making," Stewart said. "Left field is a tough position to play. Left plays harder than right."
Since more hitters are right-handed, more balls tend to hook when hit to left field.
Throws to second base also often are made across the body. Hale watched Trumbo throw from right field in workouts Sunday and said, "I think he is going to be fine out there."
Trumbo intends to improve parts of his offensive game after slashing .235/.293/.415 last season. He hit five homers in his first nine games and had seven homers by April 21 before going on the disabled list. He was activated the weekend before the All-Star break in San Francisco, and while he hit five homers in seven games on a rehab stint in the rookie Arizona League and at Triple-A Reno, he needed time to shake off the rust when he returned. He had one homer in 200 at-bats before a late-season surge.
"I set pretty high goals. Had I hit better coming off the disabled list, I think the numbers would have been more respectable," he said. "Batting average was down a little bit; still would like to get that on-base percentage higher."
"He's really (an) intense guy," Hale said. "You can tell that from across the field. The thing we can help him with is maybe backing off a little bit. He grinds really hard on his game, which we always try to get guys to do. It's always easier to get guys to back off than to get them to go harder. He plays extremely hard. It is going to be my job to make sure he has ample rest, especially in spring training, to make sure he starts the season one hundred percent."