Mike Scioscia will ignore a growing wave of public opposition to moving Mike Trout from center field back to left field, the Angels manager confirming Thursday that Peter Bourjos, on the disabled list because of a left hamstring strain, will return to center when he is activated.
“When Peter comes back, he’s going to play center field,” Scioscia said of Bourjos, who expects to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class-A Inland Empire on Monday and hopes to join the Angels for a series at Baltimore beginning June 10. “We’ll see where it goes.”
Trout, who robbed four players of home runs while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center last season, opened 2013 in left field and was batting .252 with two homers and 12 runs batted in on April 29, the day Bourjos got hurt.
Trout, the 2012 American League rookie of the year and most valuable player runner-up, moved to center the next day and has hit .343 with eight homers, six doubles, five triples and 25 RBIs in 28 games entering Thursday night.
Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Trout says he is more comfortable in center field but acknowledged his surge at the plate has more to do with a slight adjustment in his stance and laying off more pitches outside the strike zone.
Scioscia believes Trout’s improved production is a function of getting comfortable in the box, having the “rookie-of-the-year mystique” wear off and moving from the leadoff spot to second, where he is connected to No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols.
Trout leads the Angels with 42 runs and 55 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and he has a share of the team lead with 37 RBIs.
“Look, Mike’s a center fielder -- we’ve said that,” Scioscia said. “But at times, we need to tap into his versatility.”
But why mess with a good thing? And why force your best player, one the Angels hope is a franchise cornerstone for years to come, to play a position he’s not as comfortable in?
That was the gist of a Foxsports.com story Thursday in which columnist Ken Rosenthal wrote, “Would the Giants have moved a young Willie Mays out of center field?” The headline of the story: “What the Halo? Leave Trout in CF!”
Many fans feel the same way, as evidenced by comments on social media, but Scioscia has never been one to be swayed by public opinion.
“There are moves you make for the betterment of the team, and I think Mike understands,” Scioscia said. “I don’t anticipate any significant drop-off because he moved from center field to left.”
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