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Adjustment pays off for Angels' Mark Trumbo

Rookie first baseman, who had been struggling at the plate, switches timing mechanisms and the good results have come quickly.

May 31, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo has improved at the plate since making some changes to his swing.
Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo has improved at the plate since making… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Kansas City, Mo. — It was a small change, unnoticeable to all but the closest observers. But so far it has really paid off for the Angels and rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo.

After going hitless in four at-bats Friday in Minnesota, dropping his average to .240, the lowest it had been in a month, Trumbo dropped the toe tap he had used as a timing device since last winter and went back to the leg kick he employed last season, when he led the minors with 36 home runs at triple-A Salt Lake.

The change paid off immediately, with Trumbo slugging two long home runs — combined, the two balls traveled nearly 900 feet — in his next two starts, helping the Angels to two victories. And Tuesday he added two hits, both singles, giving him three consecutive multi-hit games for the first time in his career.

"I did it in Venezuela in winter ball because I was seeing a ton of breaking balls and at that time it helped me stay behind [the ball] a little bit," Trumbo said of the toe tap. "But it seemed like I got a little stale recently."

The leg kick is similar, but not as pronounced, as the one hitting coach Dwayne Murphy taught Jose Bautista when he came to Toronto. After hitting 43 home runs in 400 games in Pittsburgh, Bautista has hit 74 in the last two years in Toronto.

How long Trumbo stays with the leg kick will be determined by how well he's hitting, he said.

"I'll switch things up a couple of times a year," said Trumbo, who has seven runs batted in in his last six games and leads the Angels in homers with 10 and is leading all major league rookies in homers, extra-base hits (19) and total bases (85). "I'll open up or [use] a higher leg kick just to [give] it a new look every once in a while."

Wells getting well

Outfielder Vernon Wells simulated game situations while running the bases Tuesday afternoon, breaking out of the batter's box for first base, going hard from first to third and legging out a double with a slide into second base, among other things.

Wells, out since May 10 because of a strained groin, said he is scheduled to get treatment on the Angels' day off Thursday and could be sent out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment as early as Saturday, probably with Salt Lake at Reno.

Short hops

Bobby Abreu's four-hit game Monday was the 25th of his career. He sat out Tuesday's game against Kansas City starter Jeff Francis. Abreu is 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts in his career against Francis. … Angels TV color analyst Mark Gubicza attended the funeral Tuesday of former teammate Paul Splittorff, who died of melanoma last week. Splittorff, a 20-game winner with the Royals in 1973, was 64. … With two hits Tuesday, Angels catcher Jeff Mathis is batting .216, his highest mark since April 9, when he was hitting .217.

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