Trumbo untested in first start at third base
Mark Trumbo got his first taste of playing third base Wednesday, but that's really all it was — a taste.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was fine with it. He wanted Trumbo, who is recovering gradually from a stress fracture in his right foot, to get a feel for the position because he plans to use him at third for as many as 50 games this season.
Trumbo had a big rookie season, leading the team with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs, but he's currently without a position. He played 149 games at first base in 2011, but the addition of Albert Pujols left him without a place to play.
The outfield, where Trumbo played 11 games last season, is also out of the question — at least for now. The Angels are set with Vernon Wells in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Torri Hunter in right, with 20-year-old Mike Trout waiting in the wings.
What's left? Trumbo probably will be used some at designated hitter, but the Angels also want to see if he can transition across the diamond at third.
So far, so good.
Although Trumbo didn't field any ground balls in his debut at third, Scioscia told Prime Ticket, "He got in good position for a cutoff (throw), which is going to be a little different angle from first base. It was a prep step watching bat angles. This is stuff that's tough to simulate, especially at game speed.
"He'll get more and more comfortable, but it's good to get him out there at least on a defensive end."
Trumbo figured to be tested early by Mariners leadoff hitter Chone Figgins, an exceptional bunter. But Figgins, a former Angel, took a questionable third strike to start the game and lined a single in the third. Trumbo's only action came in the second inning when he short-hopped a throw from Bobby Abreu in left on a hit by Brendan Ryan.
Trumbo was ninth in the batting order but, by design, didn't get a chance to hit. He still isn't running the bases at full speed, although he's expected to be cleared to play by this weekend.
He left the game after three innings, but his work wasn't finished. He retreated to a back field with coaches Rob Picciolo and Alfredo Griffin to take more ground balls.
Because they are so crowded in the outfield, and because Pujols will play every day, the Angels need to find at-bats for Trumbo. Third base would seem the best spot if Kendrys Morales, who hasn't played since 2010 because of a broken left ankle, proves he can be their regular DH. Abreu is also a candidate at DH, but Scioscia will be pressed to find him enough playing time to keep him satisfied — and Abreu has already asked to be traded.
Alberto Callaspo played 129 games at third last season, making him the incumbent, but his power numbers weren't strong: six home runs and 46 RBIs.
If Trumbo makes the adjustment and proves he is fully recovered from his injury, third base might be a perfect fit.