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Struggling, Trumbo takes a seat on the bench

Struggling, Trumbo takes a seat on the bench

Struggling, Trumbo takes a seat on the bench
ANAHEIM -- Mark Trumbo's slump has reached a point where the Angels no longer know if they can trust him.

On Wednesday, he was dropped to sixth in the batting order. On Friday, he was dropped to seventh, then pinch-hit for, in favor of eventual hero Alberto Callaspo, with two outs and the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth. And on Saturday, he was out of the lineup altogether, with Vernon Wells playing left field because manager Mike Scioscia wanted Trumbo to "exhale a little bit."

Trumbo -- All-Star, ex-cleanup hitter, owner of the American League's highest slugging percentage as recently as mid-July and still the Angels' home run leader with 30 -- doesn't blame his skipper for any of those decisions.

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With one hit, 11 strikeouts and zero walks in 19 plate appearances this month, how can he?

"We're in the middle of a pennant race," Trumbo said Saturday. "There's no time for feelings now. I've always kind of been that way. I enjoy playing, being out there, but I totally understand. I'll definitely fight for the opportunities that I have, but I'm not going to be outspoken. I just haven't been getting it done."

Despite going 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts against Tigers starter Max Scherzer on Friday, Trumbo said he felt "as focused and as pumped up as I've been in a while" as he awaited his turn against Octavio Dotel with the game tied in the ninth. But he called Scioscia's decision to instead use Callaspo, who hit a walk-off single, a "great move."

"I know that I would rather be the guy to win the game," Trumbo added, "but strategically, I think that was the better move at that point."

The two spoke briefly afterward, Scioscia basically telling him to keep his head up, and Trumbo went back to the drawing board. These days, he sees himself "like a surfer treading water out there, looking to catch a wave and ride it for a little while."

But for nearly two months, the water has been flat.

Since being named the full-time cleanup hitter on July 17, Trumbo has batted .200 with five homers and 67 strikeouts in 175 at-bats, putting his batting average at .269 and his slugging percentage at .503 while constantly chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

Trumbo admits that a lot of his struggles can be mental at this point -- "I don't think most people are wired to be able to totally disconnect from the emotions of it," he said -- but he also sees several tangible issues in the batter's box. He believes the "mechanics of my swing are not sound enough to let me get away with too much right now," adding that there's "not much rhythm, not much timing."

So, as is his custom, he's poring over video and doing as many extra drills as possible.

Mostly, though, he's trying to stay positive.

"I just have to put faith in the same things that got me to where I had success," said Trumbo, who was told by Scioscia to stay away from hitting on Saturday. "I have to trust that those same things are going to get me back to a competitive level. I may not get back to the same hot streaks I had earlier, but back to start playing more to the capability that I know that I can. I'm as hard on myself as anybody. I'm pretty disgusted with how things have gone. The positive is that we've been winning a ton of ballgames, despite the fact I've basically been a non-contributor for far too long."

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