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Mike Trout hits the wall, and it feels good

Left fielder crashed into new plexiglass barrier while making a catch. There's more give than in the old chain-link fence.

June 20, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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When Mike Trout crashed into the wall in front of the left-field bullpen to make a catch on Mike Zunino's drive with two on to end the seventh inning in Wednesday night's 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, he felt like a hockey player being checked hard into the glass.

And he loved it.

Had Trout made the same catch in April, he would have run full speed into a very unforgiving, thick chain-link fence and risked serious injury. At the very least, the outfielder would have emerged with cuts and scrapes on his face and forearms.

But in May, the Angels, after consulting the neighboring Ducks, contacted a company that manufactures the plexiglass used in NHL arenas and had it installed in front of the chain-link portions of the left-field wall, leaving a gap between the old and new fences.

"It's a big help to know that if you hit it, you're not going to kill yourself," Trout said of the new wall. "It gives. That's the first time I've actually hit it in a game full speed, and it's definitely softer. The old one had no give at all. If you hit it full speed, you'd probably jam your shoulder or get cut up."

To run or not to run

With the speedy Trout on first, Peter Bourjos on third and slow-footed Albert Pujols up with one out in the third inning Wednesday, it seemed a perfect time to send Trout to avoid a double play.

Even if a stolen base led to an intentional walk of Pujols, the Angels still would have had home run leader Mark Trumbo up with the bases loaded and one out.

But Trout did not attempt to steal, and Pujols grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, something the Angels, who entered Thursday with a major league-leading 77 double-play grounders, have done far too often.

"We're going to be as aggressive as we can," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "There are times Mike feels good getting a jump and times his reads maybe aren't quite there. There's a lot of pressure on Mike because teams are paying a lot of attention to our running game. Sometimes, you can force the issue. You have to pick your spots."

Asked if some players have a green light, Scioscia said he "didn't want to give too much information." But he hinted that he'd like to see more aggressiveness when he said, "There are a lot of running opportunities for guys who get on base."

Short hops

Erick Aybar, who was 10 for 28 in his previous seven games, returned to the leadoff spot Thursday night, and Scioscia said the switch-hitting shortstop will share the spot with Bourjos as long as Josh Hamilton, dropped from second to seventh, remains at the bottom of the order. … The Angels signed independent league outfielder Luis Montanez, the third overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Chicago Cubs, to a minor league deal and assigned him to double A. Montanez, 31, who hit .223 in 129 big league games for Baltimore and the Cubs from 2008-2011, was hitting .313 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in 52 games for the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League.

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