Angels outfielder Mike Trout warms up before a game against the Baltimore… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
CLEVELAND — Mike Trout will be given every opportunity to provide a spark for a stagnant Angels offense -- the dynamic 20-year-old was in left field and batting leadoff for Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Indians, which was delayed by rain, and he is expected to remain at the top of the order for now.
But the Angels can’t look to Trout to be a savior, the player who turns the fortunes of a team that has lost five consecutive games, the last two in walk-off fashion and underachieved in numerous areas during a 6-14 start that matches the worst in franchise history, set in 2002.
“It’s a lot to put on a kid to say he’ll be a difference-maker right away,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But eventually he’ll be a force at whatever position he plays and whatever spot he fits in the lineup.”
Trout, considered one of the top three prospects in baseball, was leading off at triple-A Salt Lake, where he hit .403 with a .467 on-base percentage, 10 extra-base hits and 21 runs in 20 games, and he was glad to see his name at the top of the order Saturday.
“It’s what I’ve been doing my whole minor league career,” Trout said. “It makes me more comfortable.”
Two big-league stints as a 19-year-old last season, when he hit .220 with five homers, six doubles and 16 RBIs in 40 games, should also eliminate some of the wide-eyed feelings his friend and Arizona Fall League teammate Bryce Harper might have when he makes his debut for the Washington Nationals on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
“I’m definitely more comfortable,” Trout said. "I didn’t know what to expect last year, and I tried to do too much. I know most of the guys here now. I still haven’t seen all the pitchers, and it’s definitely going to be a challenge, a learning experience. But it’s the same game, just a lot more fans and talent."
The addition of Trout will push Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos to the bench more often, but when asked if outfield would be less of an option now for Mark Trumbo, Scioscia said, “No." Wells was not in Saturday’s lineup.
Though the speedy Bourjos is struggling with a .178 average and .245 OBP, Scioscia said he "still has a huge role on this team. We want to get him on track. He had a terrific year last year. He’ll get his playing time."
The Angels lineup: LF Mike Trout, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Albert Pujols, DH Kendrys Morales, RF Torii Hunter, 3B Mark Trumbo, SS Erick Aybar, C Bobby Wilson, CF Peter Bourjos, P Dan Haren.
The Indians lineup: CF Michael Brantley, 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Travis Hafner, C Carlos Santana, 3B Jack Hannahan, LF Shelley Duncan, 1B Casey Kotchman, RF Aaron Cunningham, P Jeannar Gomez.
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