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Angels' outfield roles will be shaken up

Mike Trout is called up, which means less playing time for Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells.

August 19, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Mike Trout hit a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the same day he was called up from double-A Arkansas.
Mike Trout hit a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Baltimore… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

There was heavy action Friday in the principal's office, where struggling outfielders Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu were summoned for lengthy individual closed-door meetings with Manager Mike Scioscia and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.

Change was in the air, precipitated by the return of 20-year-old outfielder Mike Trout, who was called up from double-A Arkansas on Friday and will push Wells and Abreu into more part-time roles.

Scioscia said the speedy Trout, who hit .163 but showed much promise during a three-week stint with the Angels in July, will start at least three or four times a week, mostly in the corner outfield spots and occasionally in center.

Abreu, who entered Friday hitting .252 with six homers and 45 runs batted in, will probably sit against left-handers, and Wells, who entered Friday with a .200 average, 17 homers and 46 RBIs, will be on the bench against more right-handers.

Trout started in right field against the Orioles on Friday night, with regular right fielder Torii Hunter moving to designated hitter. Wells, whose neck is stiff from Wednesday night's collision with the wall, was in left, but Abreu was on the bench.

"There will be times Bobby and Vernon are not in the lineup, but [Trout's playing time] is not going to be totally at their expense," Scioscia said. "Peter Bourjos will need a break [in center]. There will be ways to use Mike that won't just affect Vernon and Bobby."

The promotion of catcher Hank Conger from triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday night will also cut into Jeff Mathis' playing time.

Mathis is the team's best defensive catcher, but he's batting .176 with two homers and 17 RBIs. Scioscia said Conger will catch Saturday and Sunday.

Who catches, Scioscia said, "will be contingent on how guys are playing. As much as Jeff has been nonexistent on the offensive side, he's been very important on the defensive side. But it's tough to absorb no offense from one position."

The 37-year-old Abreu, who is hitting .156 this month, did not object to the moves. The Angels are hitting a major league-low .221 since the All-Star break, they've been shut out 11 times and limited to one run or less 28 times.

"They're going to give more opportunities to the young guys, which is understandable," Abreu said. "That's good. We have to win now. Let's see if they can help."

The 32-year-old Wells, who hit .125 with one homer and five RBIs in his previous 23 games, said he was not informed of any role reduction in his meeting with Scioscia.

"We were just trying to figure how to get out of this," said Wells, who singled to center in his first at-bat Friday night. "I know I'm in there tonight. I can't tell you about tomorrow or the next day."

Short hops

As expected, Scioscia said Jerome Williams, who was called up from triple-A Wednesday and threw two-thirds of an inning in relief that night, will start Sunday against the Orioles. Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver will start Tuesday and Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox. … To make room on the roster for Trout, the Angels optioned left-handed reliever Horacio Ramirez to Salt Lake. … With his game-winning homer in the ninth inning Thursday night, Mark Trumbo became the first Angel to hit two walk-off homers in his rookie season.

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