Angels' latest left fielder learning on the job

The Angels' latest Josh Hamilton replacement in outfield is a former first baseman

TORONTO -- Efren Navarro did not appear to have much of a future with the Angels last fall. He was a singles-hitting first baseman, trapped in triple A, with Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo ahead of him in Anaheim and top prospect C.J. Cron closing in from double A.

So Navarro volunteered to play winter ball, as an outfielder. He reported to Hermosillo of the Mexican League and spent two months playing left field.

He played left field on Friday -- for the Angels.

He is the sixth player to start in left field for the Angels this season, as many as started there all of last season. In the absence of the injured Josh Hamilton, the Angels have used two outfielders (Collin Cowgill and J.B. Shuck), two infielders (Navarro and Grant Green) and a designated hitter (Raul Ibanez) in left field.

Navarro played 11 games in the outfield and 10 at first base at triple-A Salt Lake this season. When he was shifted to right field this week and given extra work there before games, he suspected he might be joining the Angels as an outfielder.

"I want to say I had an idea," he said.

Navarro, 27, a 50th-round pick in 2007, was batting .315 with no home runs at Salt Lake. He flew here Friday, getting up at 4 a.m. in Salt Lake City and catching a connecting flight through Denver, and found himself in the starting lineup because the Angels wanted to load up on left-handed bats.

And how is his play in left field?

"It's an adjustment," he said. "It's something I'm getting more comfortable with as I'm out there."

Angels bench coach Dino Ebel said Navarro's greatest asset in left field could be Mike Trout in center field.

"He's got Trout with him out there, so maybe we'll shade Trout," Ebel said. "He can get to the balls in the gap."

Ebel is the Angels' interim manager Friday and Saturday, with Manager Mike Scioscia in Los Angeles to attend his daughter's graduation from Loyola Marymount. Rick Eckstein, the Angels' player information coach, is in uniform as the interim bench coach.

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