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Peter Bourjos' offense is a work in progress

The rookie, who is batting .122 in 41 at-bats, is benched for Wednesday's game at Boston, and Mike Scioscia says there's concern that the center fielder could lose confidence.

August 18, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Boston — Peter Bourjos has been a revelation in center field for the Angels, the speedy 23-year-old making several spectacular plays since being called up from triple-A Salt Lake on Aug. 3.

At the plate? Well, the Angels hope more will be revealed.

Bourjos hit .122 in his first 12 big league games, with five hits, 10 strikeouts and three walks in 41 at-bats, and he was on the bench for Wednesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox.

The big concern is that Bourjos struggles for an extended period, loses confidence and starts drawing comparisons to Brandon Wood, who failed to emerge from a three-month slump and lost his third base job in July.

"A kid's confidence can definitely take a hit if he struggles after making that jump from triple A to the big leagues," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But in the big picture, he's playing terrific defense. Once he gets comfortable, he will contribute on the offensive side."

Bourjos said his swing is leaking a bit toward the third base side, causing him to pull too many balls, a problem he struggled with in his first two months at Salt Lake.

"I've been starting to get frustrated with the way I'm making outs — I hate hitting ground balls to the shortstop," Bourjos said. "I don't give myself a chance to do anything."

His third-inning at-bat Tuesday night was a good example. Bourjos got into a good hitter's count, 3 and 1, fouled a pitch and grounded out to short. He also grounded out to short in the fifth inning and struck out in his final two at-bats.

"You miss your pitch here, you don't get another one after that," Bourjos said. "You might get one pitch to hit in at-bat. If you miss it, it's tough."

Down time

Scioscia also gave struggling shortstop Erick Aybar the night off Wednesday. Since hitting a home run in the Angels' 10-1 win at Detroit on Aug. 7, Aybar has four hits in 30 at-bats.

He grounded out to first base with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning and struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded to end the eighth in the team's 6-0 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"Erick's swing is too long right now," Scioscia said. "He has a little power, and sometimes that can be a double-edged sword for a guy who is not a home run hitter.

"He has to do what he does best, which is use the whole field, square the ball up with runners in scoring position, get on base and use his speed. It seems like since he hit that home run in Detroit he has gotten a little big with his swing."

Waiting game

Mark Trumbo is hitting .295 with 29 home runs and 99 runs batted in for triple-A Salt Lake, but a call-up to the big leagues does not appear imminent for the first baseman.

"He has definitely opened up some eyes, but right now we want to get Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick at-bats," Scioscia said. "We want to give them a chance to get on a roll."

Short hops

Napoli hit his 20th homer in the third inning Wednesday, becoming the 18th catcher — or player whose primary position is catcher — in major league history with three consecutive 20-homer seasons. … Scioscia said Trevor Bell, who threw three scoreless innings Tuesday against the Red Sox, will start Saturday in Minnesota, the first time since Aug. 8 the Angels have needed a fifth starter.

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