Morales finds groove while Trumbo cools off

Morales finds groove while Trumbo cools off

Morales finds groove while Trumbo cools off
ANAHEIM -- Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales recently switched places in the batting order, and now they've switched places regarding their overall success.

Morales, struggling to drive the ball in his first year back from a couple of left ankle surgeries, is settling into his first real groove of the season, posting a 1.269 OPS over his last 43 plate appearances. Trumbo, having a stellar season that ultimately made him the Angels' full-time cleanup hitter, is batting .140 with a .229 on-base percentage over his last 11 games.

On Saturday, after an 0-for-4 game in Friday's series opener against the Mariners, Trumbo was given one of those mental days off.

"Overall, the last couple of weeks have been pretty miserable -- competing and putting in all the work, putting in the effort, grinding out at-bats, and not getting anything for it," Trumbo said. "I know last year there were a couple of situations like this where I didn't play and came back and performed very well. You never want to be out of the lineup; you always want to be in there. But maybe for the greater good, sometimes, it's good to take a day away."

You could root Trumbo's slump to July 29, when he hurt his ribs during pregame batting practice and, since then, hasn't looked the same at the plate. Or you can back-date it to the day Mike Scioscia named him his full-time cleanup hitter on July 17. Since then, his batting average has dropped from .309 to .288, with his slugging percentage going from an American League-leading .634 to the current .568 mark.

Trumbo, still leading the team with 29 homers while adding 73 RBIs and a .911 OPS, has watched intensive video of his swing recently and "everything has checked out," he said. He feels he "lost a little feel for the barrel, swung at some pitches I probably shouldn't have," but doesn't believe it's any reason to struggle like he has.

His previous rib-cage issue, Trumbo continues to say, is not an issue.

"There's no excuses," he said. "I'm letting loose, just not getting it done."

But first-year hitting coach Jim Eppard sees recent progress, with Trumbo's swing path and his confidence.

"Even though it might not seem like he's getting better, I see him getting better," said Eppard, who also worked with Trumbo in the Minors. "For me, it's only a matter of time before you start to see it in games."

Morales, at long last, is seeing it in games. It began July 30, when he ditched his batting gloves in a game against the Rangers, then became only the third player in history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning.

The 29-year-old switch-hitter is 15-for-40 over his past 10 games, with four doubles and five homers to give him a more respectable .282/.327/.455 slash line.

He still doesn't feel he has the same strength in his base that he did before his injury -- but he believes he's closer than ever.

"There comes a time, after playing every day for a while, where you start recognizing pitches better and get into a better flow," Morales said in Spanish. "I think I'm starting to get there again."