Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo slowly arises after he was tagged out on… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Among the many adjustments Angels rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo has made this year, there is one change he does not mind. In fact, he downright enjoys it.
When he sits at his locker before a game, taping the handles of a batch of new bats, he isn't fine-tuning his most recent $65 purchase. After six seasons in the minors, buying bat after bat from the Trinity Bat Company in Fullerton, Trumbo no longer has to purchase his preferred piece of lumber, the T-271 model.
"It's really nice," said Trumbo, who estimated he has already broken 10 bats this season. "It takes a burden off of me. It's one of the luxuries of getting up here, working your way up. It's one of the perks."
That perk resulted in Trumbo going one for four Friday night, with one run scored.
Trumbo first tasted the major leagues in September and made the Angels' opening day roster this season as a placeholder until Kendrys Morales returned from his 2010 ankle injury. When Morales underwent season-ending surgery in May, Trumbo became an everyday player.
At the start, Trumbo struggled, batting .239 with two walks and 21 strikeouts through April 30.
"For me, I always start slow and get better as the season goes on, at whatever level I've been at," he said. "As far as the pitchers go, I'm going to have to adjust at some point anyways. Right now I'm battling, doing the best I can, and that's part of the process."
That battling has raised Trumbo's batting average to .262 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs heading into this weekend's series against the Dodgers.
"He is definitely [progressing] at the plate," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "You see him making adjustments, and he is really impressing in the batter's box."
Those adjustments have led to a .279 batting average this month, before Friday's game. Trumbo said the most difficult adjustment he has had to make is to learn that not every pitch he can hit is one he should swing at.
"It's plate discipline, and I'm not doing as well as I'd like to at that," he said. "I'm doing better at taking some of the pitches I can put in play, but I can't put in play with authority. For me, that's a big thing, just being able to take those and wait for one that I can handle."
Friday night he struggled laying off those pitches he can hit, but not hit well. After a second-inning single to right, Trumbo grounded out in his next two at-bats. In his fourth at-bat, he reached on an error and stole second.
Fortunately, just a few locker stalls away sits Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu. Over his 16-year career, Abreu's .296 average has been largely the result of his selectiveness at the plate.
"I've really been watching Bobby," Trumbo said. "It doesn't get much better than that. It's been a pleasure watching how he approaches situation and pitchers."
For his part, Abreu has done what he can to help the Southern California native along.
"We talk a bit, about fundamentals and how to go about it," Abreu said. "Besides that, he's watching what I'm doing while I'm at the plate, and picking out the good things about it.
"He likes to learn everyday. I like the approach he uses."
Just like Trumbo likes those new bats.