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Sparkling defense and a costly mistake from Angels' Peter Bourjos

A big-time catch and an inexplicable drop are this week's contrasting pictures of the young center fielder.

April 23, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos slams against the wall after making a leaping catch on a fly ball by Texas' David Murphy on Wednesday.
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos slams against the wall after making… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

On Wednesday, Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos made an at-the-wall catch in his club's 4-1 win at Texas that was so good his teammate Jered Weaver referred to it as "The Catch."

It was the kind of highlight many expected from the speedy 24-year-old, who drew rave reviews in the minor leagues for his defensive excellence in center field.

But Friday, Bourjos cost the Angels some runs in their 4-3 loss to Boston after a head-scratching drop of a fly ball that left some criticizing his center-field inexperience at this level.

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The drop occurred on a Carl Crawford fly ball to shallow right-center, where Bourjos, right-fielder Torii Hunter and second baseman Howie Kendrick were converging.

There appeared to be confusion over who would make the catch, and Bourjos dropped the ball, allowing two runs to score.

"It was just a bad play on my part," he said before Saturday's game against Boston, in which Bourjos sat out after Angels Manager Mike Scioscia gave him the "day off," adding that Bourjos would return to the lineup Sunday.

"If I come through there, take charge, then I catch the ball and we win the game," Bourjos said. "It's really on me. That's my fault."

Bourjos, who joined the Angels in August from their triple-A Salt Lake team, didn't blame inexperience for his mistake.

He also didn't say he had any tendency on plays like that to defer to Hunter, the longtime center fielder and nine-time Gold Glove award winner who moved to right field to make room for Bourjos in center.

"No, not at all," Bourjos said.

Those are the types of answers Scioscia wants to hear, since after Friday's game he noted that as the center fielder, "you're the captain."

Bourjos said Hunter did pull him aside and told him to go after every fly ball he can, that his teammates are there for him, and that those types of drops sometimes happen.

"Next time, learn from it," Bourjos said Hunter told him.

No lack of friendship

John Lackey spent his first eight major league seasons with the Angels before the right-hander left Anaheim in 2009 to sign a five-year deal with Boston.

But Scioscia said that although Lackey, who is scheduled to start Sunday for Boston against the Angels, now plays on the East Coast, he's usually not far away.

"His favorite Mexican restaurant down in Newport, you can walk in and he's there a lot," Scioscia said, adding that the two still talk often and that few Angels players commanded respect in the clubhouse as Lackey did.

"You wish him well — except when he's pitching against us," Scioscia said.

Lackey is 1-2 this season with a 9.82 earned-run average.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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