Angels third baseman Mark Trumbo understands that he remains a work in progress… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
It's not typical baseball strategy to reduce the playing time of a 26-year-old, second-year major leaguer who accounted for 29 homers and 87 runs batted in as a rookie. But that seems to be what's happening to Mark Trumbo.
The Angels sat Trumbo for a second straight game Tuesday, starting Alberto Callaspo at third base and underlining the point that the slugger's conversion from first base to third is still a work in progress.
"I understood I wouldn't be playing every day, and that's what's playing out," Trumbo said after an extended practice session of fielding ground balls as infield coach Alfredo Griffin and Manager Mike Scioscia watched.
Trumbo and fellow third basemen Callaspo and Maicer Izturis said Scioscia hasn't communicated a definitive plan for third base playing time.
"Any time they give me a chance, I'm ready every day.… It's all good," Callaspo said.
"You have to come here every day with your mind set to play," Izturis said.
Trumbo had a clearer interpretation of the fluid situation.
"As quick as I can progress at third, [it] will equal more playing time," Trumbo said. "It's all on me. That's the way I take it. That's why I'm putting so much work in."
Trumbo started at third in the Angels' first game but made three errors in the opening series. He has now started three of 11 games and has only 16 at-bats.
Based on rumblings over social media outlets, some fans would like to see Trumbo replace left fielder Vernon Wells in the lineup. But Trumbo started only one game in the outfield this spring and hasn't played there at all during the regular season.
"He'll get in [the lineup].… We want to get him in there as much as possible," Scioscia said. "It's tough to say what his [at-bat] numbers will be; guys will get a chance to contribute.
Griffin declined to estimate how long it might take for Trumbo to become truly comfortable at third. The coach said he admires Trumbo's dedication but added, "He's too hard on himself," so they spent part of Tuesday "just getting him to relax."
Trumbo rejected the notion that a move to triple A might be best, saying, "I can contribute at this level. I feel there are maybe five positions — corner outfield, corner infield and designated hitter — I can play. But when you look at our roster, there's a lot of talent.
"I didn't expect it to be easy. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can play [third base], and play it well."
The Angels won't have any early picks in the June draft as a result of losing compensation picks for signing free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
The club's first pick will be in the third round, No 114 overall.
The upside: The Angels will save money because they won't have to shell out big bonuses to sign early picks.
General Manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels would still "scout the country thoroughly," adding that he was not certain how much money the club would have to sign its picks.