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Angels' Peter Bourjos doesn't have a place to play

Speedy center fielder has seen his role reduced, but he's getting used to it.

June 22, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos has seen his playing time diminish this season.
Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos has seen his playing time diminish this… (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)

Most big leaguers don't start thinking about winter ball until September, but Peter Bourjos has already envisioned himself playing November games in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.

"It's crossed my mind," the Angels center fielder said. "There's always an option of getting some at-bats in winter ball if I had to."

At this point, winter ball may offer the best chance of regular playing time for Bourjos. With veteran Torii Hunter, young slugger Mark Trumbo and 20-year-old phenom Mike Trout entrenched in the outfield, Bourjos, a starter for all of 2011, has been marginalized to the point of near-irrelevancy.

Since May 1, Bourjos, who hit .271 with 12 home runs, 11 triples, 26 doubles and 72 runs last season, has started 16 of 48 games, his role essentially reduced to pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.

At 25, Bourjos is still considered a developing player, but the Angels have resisted sending him to triple A to play every day because, as Manager Mike Scioscia said, "He has a role on this team, and he's going to help us win games."

Anyone who has seen Bourjos race into the gaps to turn would-be doubles into outs, fly around the bases or get a bunt down would agree with that assessment. But is being mothballed for a season in Bourjos' best interests?

"I think for this year, it's not going to hurt," Bourjos said. "But I don't think it would be good for two years."

Bourjos struggled with his reduced role in May, and though he isn't thriving — he entered Friday with a .216 average (22 for 102), 10 RBIs and 12 runs — he has gradually grown to accept it.

"I can't say it's getting easier or harder, but I've settled into it," Bourjos said. "I know when I'm going to play, when I'm not going to play, and I'm starting to get into a routine with it."

Center field is demanding enough, but it can be an even bigger challenge playing it after sitting for eight innings.

The key for Bourjos is "paying attention on the bench," he said. "If I was messing around, cracking jokes, oblivious to what was happening, and all of a sudden it's, 'Get in the game,' it would be tough. But I'm playing the game along with everyone else, so it's all right."

Williams update

Pitcher Jerome Williams, who was hospitalized because of breathing problems after Monday night's game against San Francisco and placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, has been cleared for baseball activities and will throw a bullpen session this weekend.

Williams, who passed out in the clubhouse after being removed from the game, said a stress test revealed no heart problems and that doctors believe his event was caused by asthma exacerbated by anxiety. He will try to better control his asthma by using an inhaler more often.

"It's about not panicking about it, taking a deep breath and staying calm," Williams said. "I don't think it should recur, but I have to stay on top of it."

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