Trumbo again adjusting to new role with Angels
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- For an imposing slugger
with 61 homers in his first two major league seasons and fairly
limitless potential, Mark Trumbo sure gets moved around a lot.
After stints as a solid first baseman, a
less-than-solid third baseman and a thoroughly competent outfielder,
Trumbo is heading into his third full season with the Angels
primarily as a designated hitter.
The team's free-agency splurges
on Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are to blame for Trumbo's transience,
yet the power hitter who plays for his hometown team doesn't seem
terribly irritated by his now-annual moves around the diamond.
"It's kind of the way it's always been,"
Trumbo said Thursday at the Angels' spring training complex. "I think
everyone would like to have a set position, but as the numbers shake out
and the quality of the team we have, sometimes certain guys are better
fits at certain spots. I just keep going and keep working."
The Angels are grateful Trumbo is
amenable to the positions switches they've forced on him. He became an
All-Star last season, yet he also carries the humility of a player who
had turned 25 before he became a major league regular.
"His versatility is important because
he (allows) us to keep a big bat in the lineup that we want to," manager
Mike Scioscia said. "We explored third base last year, and that
obviously didn't pan out, but his ability to play corner outfield, first
base and also DH is going to get him at-bats. It's important because we
can use the DH in a way to get other guys moving around and get them
off their feet a little bit."
Trumbo is already addressing the
potential pitfalls of life as a designated hitter, speaking with
Scioscia and his staff about ways to stay involved while he's on the
bench -- and also what not to do, including overanalysis of video or
too much work in the batting cage between at-bats.
"It might be a tad tougher to stay in
the rhythm of the game if you're not out there playing defense," Trumbo
said. "We're just trying to find a routine that works. It'll be
trial-and-error a little bit at first, but we came up with some decent
strategies last year so we're better prepared for this year."
Trumbo began his short major league
career at first base in 2011, where he immediately filled the hole left
by injured Kendrys Morales. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year
voting to Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson with 29 homers and 87 RBIs.
Not much besides the best first baseman
of his generation could have moved Trumbo -- but that's exactly what
the Angels had after Pujols got a 10-year, $240 million deal from owner
Trumbo tried third base the following
spring, hoping to fill an obvious weak spot in the Angels' lineup with
his big bat. He made four errors in eight regular-season games before
Scioscia's patience evaporated -- so the Angels put Trumbo into a roving
role that kept him primarily in the outfield.
He started 66 games in left field, 31
games in right, 16 at first base and 22 as a designated hitter, giving
plenty of flexibility to Scioscia. Trumbo made his first All-Star team
and finished with 32 homers and 95 RBIs despite a prolonged slump down
He expected to be in the outfield again
this season after free agent Torii Hunter left for Detroit. General
manager Jerry Dipoto projected him as the right fielder alongside Mike
Trout and Peter Bourjos -- and then Moreno signed Hamilton, giving the
outfielder and former MVP a five-year, $125 million deal.
So Trumbo is on the move again. With Morales' departure in a trade, he'll be the Angels' new designated
hitter most of the time. He's also keeping his glove handy, anticipating
he'll get plenty of spot work in the field even if everybody stays
He's focused on the positive aspects of
his new job, particularly as the No. 5 hitter behind Trout, Pujols and
Hamilton in one of the majors' most potent lineups. He's confident he
has recaptured his swing after a .213 slump in roughly the final two
months of the regular season.
"I just got into some bad habits,"
Trumbo said. "It's tough to maintain a swing -- any kind of swing, golf
swing, baseball swing -- for that long. I think my approach was OK, but
the worse you do, the more you try to do, and that's going to work in
reverse, too. I feel great now, and I finished out the last couple of
weeks of the season good, so I'm good to go."