YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Angels' Mickey Hatcher helps Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos get back in the swing

Team's hitting coach works with the two young players on adjustments at the plate and it is paying dividends.

June 28, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos has seen his batting average improve since hitting coach Mickey Hatcher diagnosed a problem with his swing.
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos has seen his batting average improve… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

For Mark Trumbo, it was an in-game adjustment in Florida on June 22, one that turned an awful start at the plate into a satisfying night in which he got two key hits in a 10-inning victory for the Angels.

For Peter Bourjos, it was a pregame adjustment in Seattle on June 14, one that sparked an 11-game stretch in which he was 13 for 32 (.406), including four hits Monday night, to raise his average from .243 to .264.

The common denominator: Mickey Hatcher, the batting instructor who seems to get most of the blame when the Angels aren't hitting and little of the credit when they are.

Bourjos hit .176 (18 for 102) with 31 strikeouts in May and spent countless hours in the cages with Hatcher. The two finally clicked on something that day in Seattle, when Hatcher helped Bourjos correct a slight uppercut in his swing.

"That was the first game I felt better seeing the ball and taking a better path to the ball," Bourjos said. "When you have an upper cut, it makes your bat go in and out of the [hitting] zone too quick."

And the last thing a player with Bourjos' blazing speed wants to do is hit a bunch of fly balls.

"It's a lot of hard work," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Bourjos. "He's making a lot of adjustments. Mickey's doing an incredible job with him and he's, hopefully, getting comfortable where he can start to use one of his best assets, and that's his speed."

Trumbo's best asset is power, but he showed none of it in his first two at-bats against the Marlins on June 22, striking out with runners on second and third and one out in the second inning and popping out to first with a runner on third and one out in the third.

"Mickey saw something, and I took it right into that game," Trumbo said. "My next at-bat, I changed my mind-set and hit a single up the middle."

He also hit a two-out double to left field and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, a game-winning run-scoring single in the 10th and hit his team-leading 13th home run in the Angels' win over the Dodgers on Saturday. Trumbo's stride and swing were a little out of sync last week.

"It's what Mickey likes to call a cross-fire," Trumbo said. "I want to keep my direction toward right-center field as opposed to spinning off the ball and having my hips go one way and your upper body another. Guys with more aggressive swings are more susceptible to that sometimes."

Case closed

Jordan Walden will remain the team's closer despite blowing his last three save opportunities, including Monday night, when he gave up a two-out, score-tying home run to Danny Espinosa in the ninth inning.

"I think Jordan is going to be fine, Scioscia said. "The outing in Dodger Stadium [on Sunday] was rough, and even though he blew the save in Florida [last Wednesday] he pitched well. And he wasn't that far off [Monday] night, so we're going to stick with him."

Short hops

An MRI test on the right shoulder of C.J. Cron, the Angels' first-round pick, reconfirmed a labrum tear. The first baseman officially signed for $1.467 million Tuesday and will report to the team's advanced rookie league team in Orem, Utah, on Wednesday to begin his professional career. … Reliever Fernando Rodney, on the disabled list since June 9 because of an upper-back strain, took a significant step toward his return when he threw in the bullpen Tuesday.

Los Angeles Times Articles