TEMPE, Ariz. -- The clear beneficiary of Vernon Wells' departure to the Yankees -- a deal that is still not done but appears headed in that direction -- is Peter Bourjos.
Bourjos came in as the Angels' starting center fielder, but with an accomplished veteran like Wells on the bench, there seemed to be some pressure on Bourjos to get off to a good start in order to maintain his everyday role.
Now, it seems Bourjos has some breathing room -- though he doesn't see it that way.
"I still want to get off to a good start," Bourjos said. "I don't think I'm going to put any extra pressure on myself, or any less, now that Vernon's not here. I just want to go out there and play the game that I know how to play, play it at a high level."
Bourjos, one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, batted .271 with 12 homers, 22 stolen bases and 11 triples in 2011. But he batted .167 last April, rode the bench when Mike Trout established himself and received only 15 plate appearances from the start of August to the end of the season.
The 25-year-old has had a nice spring, batting .333, but so had Wells, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said -- without providing specifics -- that Wells would get his opportunities to play.
Now, it appears, that option is gone.
Bourjos had nothing but high praise for the way Wells handled a tough situation and the way he treated everyone.
"He's a great teammate," Bourjos said, "great person."
Asked if trading Wells is an indication that the Angels believe he can handle an everyday role, Bourjos said: "Yeah, I guess. But you still have to go out and prove it. That's all I'm concerned about doing is having good at-bats and earning the job."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.