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Mark Trumbo looks comfortable at third base

He makes a diving defensive play and homers against Brewers, giving Mike Scioscia an option for the regular season.

March 24, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels third baseman Mark Trumbo falls over Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez while trying to catch a pick-off throw from the catcher during the seventh inning of Friday's exhibition game.
Angels third baseman Mark Trumbo falls over Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)

Reporting from Phoenix -- All those years the Angels pined for a power-hitting third baseman, and now they may have found one right under their noses. Mark Trumbo, making his eighth start of the spring at third, dived to his left to stop Rickie Weeks' fifth-inning shot and threw to second for an out, then lined a solo home run to right-center field off Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth to highlight the Angels' 6-3 split-squad victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.

Few expect the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Trumbo to be the next Brooks Robinson — or Troy Glaus, for that matter — on defense, and he has already made three errors this spring. But the converted first baseman has also made enough progress that he could eclipse the Angels' projection of playing 30-40 games there this season.

"He definitely looks comfortable at third, and he's swinging the bat well," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We feel he has the potential to be a terrific third baseman, but he's not there yet. It's going to take a little time. But he's making the routine plays, and he made a real nice one today."

Trumbo, who led the team in home runs (29) and runs batted in (87) as a rookie last season, was pushed off first by Albert Pujols, but his potent bat may force Scioscia to find more playing time for him at third, first, designated hitter and right field.

Trumbo hit a laser off Rodriguez for his third homer in 28 spring at-bats. Playing third would allow Scioscia to get the bats of Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Trumbo in the same lineup, but Scioscia is not ready to name Trumbo as his starter over Alberto Callaspo.

"We win a lot of games with defense too, and there has to be that balance," Scioscia said. "As much as we're looking for offense, you can't break down that defensive continuity. We don't think Mark will. If he plays well enough, he'll not only make the plays we need but get his at-bats."

Welcome home

Kendrys Morales had a moment to savor Friday night, crushing a solo home run to right-center in the second inning of a 4-1 split-squad win over Cleveland at Goodyear Ballpark.

It was the first homer in almost two years for Morales, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since breaking his left ankle while jumping into home plate in celebration of a walk-off homer on May 29, 2010.

Morales, who singled in the fourth and struck out in the sixth, circled the bases slowly and tiptoed gently onto the plate while his teammates celebrated in the dugout.

"It's been almost two years since I hit a home run," Morales said through an interpreter. "It felt pretty good. It lifted my spirits a little bit."

Morales, who had two hits in his spring debut Thursday, is scheduled to play Saturday against Texas, giving him starts in three straight games. At this pace, he should get the 40-50 at-bats he needs to be ready to open the season.

"I'm ready to go," Morales said.

Rough patch

After breezing through his first three starts, in which he struck out 15 in 10 scoreless innings, Dan Haren hit some turbulence Friday. Strange as it seems, the right-hander enjoyed the bumps.

Haren hit Nyjer Morgan with a pitch and walked Ryan Braun to open the fourth, and both came around to score, but those were the only runs Haren gave up in a five-inning, five-hit, 67-pitch effort against the Brewers.

"It was nice to labor through an inning," said Haren, who faced seven batters in the fourth and struck out Carlos Gomez with two on to end the inning. "It was a pretty flawless spring to that point. It was probably good that I needed to get out of a jam and gain a little endurance."

Duck and cover

Ervin Santana will pitch Saturday against the Rangers, but left-hander C.J. Wilson will not pitch against his former club Sunday. Wilson, the former Texas ace, will start a triple-A game Sunday, with a target of six innings and 90 pitches.

It's common late in spring for teams to "hide" top pitchers from division rivals, but it's also common for starters making the jump from five innings and 75 pitches to six innings and 90 pitches in minor league games, where pitch counts can be better monitored.

"I don't think keeping them away from a team is part of the equation," Scioscia said. "If our guys are pitching on the minor league side, it's so they can get to where they need to be at this point in the spring. Sometimes you need to do that in a controlled setting."

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