Angels' Mike Trout will move back to left field when Peter Bourjos… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )
Since Mike Trout returned to center field, he has resembled the dominant offensive force he was last year. However, when center fielder Peter Bourjos returns from the disabled list, the Angels plan to return Trout to left field.
Trout began play Monday batting .354 in 12 games since Bourjos' injury, with four home runs, 13 runs batted in, and nine runs. In his first 25 games this season, Trout batted .252, with 12 RBIs and 14 runs.
"Whether Mike plays center or left, it's not connected with his offensive performance," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If we asked him to play shortstop, you might have more of an argument.
"He's playing left field, and he's playing it well. That's not the issue. Mike is a center fielder, no doubt about it. But, with Peter playing well, you're taking a burden off Mike. There's less of a grind moving from center to left."
Bourjos is expected to sit out another two to four weeks because of a strained left hamstring. He said he started playing catch Monday but has yet to resume hitting or running.
The Angels envisioned a premium defensive outfield with Trout in left and Bourjos in center, and they recruited flyball pitchers accordingly. Craig Landis, the agent for Trout, said in spring training that Trout experienced "disappointment" when the Angels told him of the move to left field.
Bourjos said no one from the coaching staff or front office has talked to him about playing left field. He said, speaking generally, that he did not believe there should be a correlation between offensive and defensive performance.
"I've always looked at offense and defense as two separate things," Bourjos said. "They're not linked, or, at least, they shouldn't be."
Ryan Madson expects different role
Ryan Madson, signed in the anticipation he would be the Angels' closer, said he does not expect to fill that role when he finally joins the active roster, probably this week.
Ernesto Frieri, the current closer, has converted seven of eight save opportunities, with a 1.59 earned-run average. He has struck out 25 in 17 innings and held opponents to a .138 batting average.
"I wouldn't change a good thing," Madson said. "I already went through that [a closer controversy] in Philadelphia. I just want to pitch, feel good, and get outs. Everything else will take care of itself."
Madson was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class-A Inland Empire on Monday. Madson said he has lobbied to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday but said Angels officials have told him to expect at least one more minor league rehabilitation appearance.
Erick Aybar nears return
Shortstop Erick Aybar, who has not played since Thursday because of tightness in his right hamstring, will "most likely" return Tuesday, Scioscia said.
Aybar, previously on the disabled list because of a bruised left heel, has started 16 games. Brendan Harris started his 17th game at shortstop Monday.