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Angels' youngsters hit a rough patch

Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo are in batting slumps and veteran outfielder Torii Hunter calls it 'an adjustment period for them.'

May 18, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos reacts after striking out against the Chicago White Sox on May 9.
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos reacts after striking out against… (Gary A. Vasquez / U.S. Presswire )

Reporting from Seattle — The numbers are hard enough to swallow.

Peter Bourjos began Wednesday night's game in an 0-for-20 slump, one hit in his previous 26 at-bats and a team-high 47 strikeouts. Then he struck out in his first two at-bats Wednesday.

But the worst thing about the skid, which dropped his average from .303 on May 8 to .257 through Tuesday, is that the Angels center fielder knows exactly what's wrong and feels almost powerless to correct it.

"It's frustrating because you feel it and you keep doing it," Bourjos said. "Maybe I should just stop thinking about it."

The problem, Bourjos said, is that he's "pulling off the ball," meaning his front shoulder is flying open and his body pulling toward third base as he swings.

As a result, he is fouling off pitches he should be putting in play and falling into too many pitchers' counts, which has left him vulnerable to the strikeout.

"I keep working in the cage, trying to stay to right field," Bourjos said. "If I trust my hands, I should be OK. I haven't been doing that lately."

Bourjos is not the only struggling Angels youngster. Rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo began Wednesday's game in a two-for-25 slump that dropped his average from .274 to .244. He hit his sixth home run May 5 but hasn't hit one since.

But both started Wednesday night against Seattle Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas because Manager Mike Scioscia wanted to flood the lineup with right-handed hitters.

"Our young guys helped carry us the first month, and now they're struggling a bit, but it's an adjustment period for them," veteran outfielder Torii Hunter said. "The league found some weaknesses and made adjustments against them. Now they need to make adjustments against the league."

Top prospect is sidelined

Hard-throwing prospect Cam Bedrosian, a 19-year-old right-hander who was a first-round pick of the Angels in June, underwent "Tommy John" surgery this month to reconstruct his elbow ligament and will be sidelined for 12 to 15 months.

"At his age, it's a minor setback," said Abe Flores, director of player development. "If he was 28, it would be dire. But it's not like he's the only one his age who has done this before. We'd rather address it now than later."

Former Angels pitching prospect Nick Adenhart underwent the same procedure after he graduated from high school and recovered to reach the major leagues at age 21. Adenhart was killed in an automobile crash in April 2009.

Bedrosian, the son of former major league pitcher Steve Bedrosian, was the 29th overall pick in last year's draft out of East Coweta High in Georgia. His fastball has been clocked between at 92 and 95 mph, and he has an excellent overhand curve.

He was 0-2 with a 4.50 earned-run average, 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 innings in the Arizona rookie league last summer. Bedrosian suffered an elbow strain toward the end of the season and aggravated it in extended spring training camp.

Exchange program

As part of the Angels' 50th-anniversary celebration, the team has invited former Angels pitcher Don Sutton, an Atlanta broadcaster, to do two innings of play by play for the Angels' radio network during Sunday's interleague game against the Braves.

Sutton will call the third and fourth innings for KLAA (AM 830). Angels broadcaster Terry Smith will call the same innings for the Braves' radio network.

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