Mark Trumbo has done virtually everything he can to win the first-base job this spring, batting .309 (21 for 68) with a team-leading six home runs and 20 runs batted in before Monday’s game against the Dodgers.
But Manager Mike Scioscia was noncommittal Monday when asked if Trumbo, a former Villa Park High standout, would be his everyday first baseman to start the season.
“Mark is going to get a lot of playing time,” Scioscia said. “How many at-bats a week he gets will depend on matchups and production.”
Scioscia started Howie Kendrick at first Monday night, the fourth time since March 18 the regular second baseman has started at first. Maicer Izturis started at second, Erick Aybar at shortstop and Alberto Callaspo at third.
No one in that infield has the power of Trumbo, who had 36 homers and 122 RBIs at triple-A Salt Lake last season, but it’s an alignment Scioscia will probably use a few times a week until first baseman Kendrys Morales returns from a broken left leg.
Scioscia believes that infield will provide better overall defense, because Kendrick, who has started 53 major league games at first, rates a slight edge over Trumbo, whom the manager described as “a work in progress” defensively. ". . .He’s adequate and improving,” Scioscia said.
Izturis is stronger at second than Kendrick, but Callaspo is not as strong as Izturis, who will see plenty of action at third.
The Angels, though, seem committed to playing Callaspo, acquired from Kansas City last July in a desperate attempt to boost production at third, as much as possible.
“We need depth,” Scioscia said, “and Howie’s ability to play first gives us depth there and a different look.”
Trumbo, of course, could force his way into an everyday lineup spot with a hot start, but like most power hitters, he needs regular playing time to find and keep his stroke.
“His swing is big, and it might take more to maintain,” Scioscia said. “But if he’s out there three to five games a week, he should be able to maintain it.”
Downs is up
Scott Downs threw off a mound Monday for the first time since breaking his left big toe March 13, and it appears the left-handed reliever will return closer to mid-April than late April.
“I didn’t baby it, and it felt good,” said Downs, who threw 20 pitches off a mound. “There was no pain. We’ll see how it feels [Tuesday], but it looks promising.”
Downs, who will open the season on the disabled list, underwent X-rays Monday, but doctors won’t be able to evaluate them until Tuesday.
Wells sits again
Vernon Wells, sidelined since Thursday because of a tight left hamstring, did not play Monday night, but the left fielder said he is feeling better and expects to play Tuesday night in Angel Stadium.
“I have one more day to make sure it feels even better, so I’m going to take it,” Wells said. “I plan to start playing every day Thursday,” when the Angels open the season in Kansas City.
Morales, whose rehabilitation from a broken left leg was slowed by soreness in the ball of his left foot, took batting practice Monday for the first time in a week. Scioscia said the slugger should resume agility drills and defensive work Tuesday. . . . Right fielder Torii Hunter, who missed three games because of a tight right quadriceps, started Monday night and hit a run-scoring double to left in his first at-bat.