Big-hitting Trumbo starts in left field

Big-hitting Trumbo starts in left field

ANAHEIM -- The Mark Trumbo experiment at third base isn't done; it's just on a bit of a hiatus.

Friday's game, the series opener against the Orioles at Angel Stadium, didn't just mark the 12th lineup combination manager Mike Scioscia has used in 14 games, it marked the seventh straight game in which Trumbo has not started at third base.

Instead, Trumbo got his first start of the season in the outfield, playing left field while Alberto Callaspo (batting .154) manned the hot corner, Peter Bourjos (.206) missed his second game in the last three days and Kendrys Morales (0-for-8 against lefties) batted seventh against southpaw Brian Matusz.

Eventually, Trumbo will return to third base -- perhaps even Saturday -- but he's definitely more comfortable as a corner outfielder, regardless of the number of reps he's had there.

It's just a more enjoyable experience for him.

"At times I think it can be," said Trumbo, who played a lot of outfield in high school and spent 33 games there in the Minors.

"You never relax out there, but I think there's less going on mentally than at third, especially at this point in time."

However it happens, the Angels simply need Trumbo right now. He was never expected to play third base when a ground-ball pitcher such as Jerome Williams starts, but given the offense's inconsistencies, the presence of Trumbo's bat could be crucial.

The right-handed-hitting slugger entered Friday's game with a .368/.478/.684 slash line, but was 11th on the team in plate appearances (23).

"He's going to play third base," Scioscia continued to emphasize Friday. "But we want him in there more than maybe what you would project the day starting at third base would be for the season, so he's going to have to play some corner outfield, some third base and also DH.

"The defensive chemistry and continuity is very important to us, so we're looking at that very closely. But Mark Trumbo is going to get a chance to contribute this year, that's for sure."

What "a chance" quantifies to, nobody knows right now. For now, Trumbo will continue to get pregame work at third base, will continue to get his reps at first and will continue to sneak out to the outfield to read balls off the bat during batting practice.

His playing time will depend on how he hits, how the others hit and how his defense holds up at his array of positions.

It's nothing the former first baseman didn't expect going into this season.

"I mean, I have to be flexible, wherever it's at," Trumbo said. "I guess I enjoy the fact that they feel comfortable to give me a chance at different positions. It's up to me to do the best I can to make the plays I need to make -- same concept as third base. Just give them some confidence in my ability."