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ANGELS FYI

Angels' Peter Bourjos has sights on winter ball

Center fielder is planning to play in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela 'just to keep progressing as a player.'

August 30, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Don't expect to see Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos on the golf course during the offseason.
Don't expect to see Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos on the golf… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Reporting from Seattle — Center fielder Peter Bourjos hopes to be playing baseball in Southern California deep into October. But when the Angels' season does end, he said, he'll take a short break before heading to Latin America to continue playing in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.

It's common for young players to play winter ball, allowing them to refine parts of their game in a competitive atmosphere. Rare, however, is the established, U.S.-born player who gives up part of his off-season.

"As long as I'm playing this game, I want to keep improving. I don't want to just settle for .280, .290 or wherever I end up this year," said Bourjos, who started Tuesday batting .278. "I want to keep improving. Walking more, striking out less. So it's more just to keep progressing as a player."

After finishing with the Angels last summer, Bourjos played 24 games for Escogido of the Dominican League. But he struggled, batting .211 and being booed.

"A little," he said. "Actually, a lot."

Bourjos said the experience of playing in a foreign country also gave him a greater understanding for what Spanish-speaking players go through when they come to the U.S. as minor leaguers.

"Just being away from home and being in a country where I didn't really understand the language or the culture too much," he said. "And they come over here at 16 and 17. That has to be tough.

"I was kind of hesitant about going, [but] I just felt like coming into spring training I was a lot sharper. I still want to prove myself and I want to get better. I don't feel like I'm where I want to be."

Bourjos must get the Angels' approval to play this winter, after which he has to find a team. One possibility is Magallanes of the Venezuelan league, where teammate Mark Trumbo will play.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has already announced that rookies Hank Conger and Mike Trout will play in the Arizona Fall League.

Playoff atmosphere

Although it has been a tough season for the Angels on the minor league level, with two managers resigning in midseason, the team's California League affiliate clinched a second-half playoff berth Monday. And the organization's representatives in the rookie-level Pioneer and Dominican Summer leagues have the best records in their circuits.

Inland Empire, in its first season as the Angels' Cal League team, will begin postseason play Sept 7 against Lake Elsinore. Returning just in time for the playoffs is infielder Jean Segura, ranked by Baseball America as the organization's third-best prospect behind Trout and Tyler Chatwood.

Segura has been out since May 27 because of a strained left hamstring.

Short hops

Scioscia said the Angels will call up as many as eight minor league players when rosters expand to a maximum 40 players Thursday. Scioscia said the team will add at least one pitcher before the final game of the Seattle series, with the rest of the minor leaguers joining the team when the Angels return to Anaheim. … Trumbo, a rookie-of-the-year candidate, not only leads the Angels in homers (24) and runs batted in (73), but he started Tuesday leading American League first basemen in putouts and double plays.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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