Bourjos finding offensive groove

Bourjos finding offensive groove

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Peter Bourjos, who knows he needs to improve his offense to claim the Angels' center-field job, isn't letting the pressure impact him, judging by recent results.

With a double and two singles, driving in two runs, on Thursday against the Mariners, Bourjos lifted his batting average to .364 this spring. He has five hits in his past 10 at-bats and has a .464 on-base percentage with four walks and only three strikeouts in 30 plate appearances. He also is 2-for-2 in steals and is handling everything within his vast range in center.

"You need to be productive at the bottom end of your lineup," said manager Mike Scioscia, who figures to have the ultra-swift Bourjos batting ninth to reduce the pressure. "Does he need to hit .300? No. He's bunting well, running the bases. As long as we see him contributing on the offensive end, it gives us a longer look at this lineup that we really like."

A .293 career hitter in the Minors who batted .314 last year at Triple-A Salt Lake, Bourjos hit .204 in 51 games after arriving in early August and assuming the center-field role. His six homers in 181 at-bats project to close to 20 for a full season, indicating he's no slap hitter trying to exploit his speed.

"He can drive the ball on occasion," Scioscia said. "When he hits a gap, it's fun to watch him run."

Bourjos said he would like to hit somewhere in the .260 to .300 range. Given his brilliant defense, the Angels would be satisfied with something in the lower range of that projection.