Thanks to the potential return of Kendrys Morales and signing of Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim slugger Mark Trumbo will have to move positions in 2012. The first baseman is ready to begin taking ground balls at third base.
Coming off a season in which he led the team in home runs and RBI and finished second in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year, Mark Trumbo
should have had a measure of security in his future with the Angels.
As it played out this winter, though, nothing could be further from the truth. The potential return of Kendrys Morales
after nearly two years recovering from a fractured ankle was already a threat to Trumbo's status and playing time at first base -- and then the Angels signed Albert Pujols
as a free agent.
Now the 26-year-old slugger will head to spring training in a very undefined role, having endured a steady stream of speculation that he might be traded. With few starts available at first base, Trumbo has begun working out at third base and Will Likely also spend time in the outfield, trying to transition into a multi-position role that can maximize his playing time in the Angels' new Pujols-centric world.
"If I'm physically able, I'll be out there at 4:15 in the morning (taking groundballs at third base) if that's what it takes," Trumbo said. "In all honesty, I'll field thousands of groundballs a day if that's going to give me a better chance to make the transition and help the team."
Trumbo has only recently been physically able to start full workouts. A stress fracture in his right foot was slow to heal and it wasn't until the start of February that he was cleared to take his workouts onto the field. Since then, he has been working with Angels coach Rob Picciolo on the transition to third base.
"Logically, it is a very tough transition, especially learning on the fly," Trumbo said of playing third base. "But one thing they have said is they will be patient. I'm going to give it everything I have and I don't think there's any reason I can't make the transition.
"I don't have any unrealistic expectations off the bat about me being a Gold Glove-type in February. But I think it'd be nice to be able to make the routine play, field bunts and do everything that everyone would normally do. There are probably going to be some plays that do get by me but I'll try to be as consistent as I can be. And if I'm hitting -- not allowing the one to affect the other -- I think we'll be all the better for it."
Angels Notes & Quotes
OF Mike Trout was named the top prospect in Keith Law's Top 100 rankings for ESPN.com. It is the second consecutive year Law has placed Trout at the top of the list. Trout was also named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year for 2011.
Three other Angels farmhands were included in ESPN's ranking of the Top 100 prospects in baseball -- SS Jean Segura, RHP Garrett Richards and RHP John Hellweg. Segura and Hellweg are likely headed to Class AA this year while Richards will go to spring training with the Angels with a chance to compete for the fifth spot in their starting rotation. Richards made the jump from Class AA to a brief stint with the Angels last season and is likely ticketed for more seasoning in Class AAA this year.
1B-DH Russell Branyan has signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees. Branyan, 36, was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks last May and signed with the Angels. In 37 games, he batted .185 (12 for 65) with four home runs and 12 RBI. The Yankees are the 12th team Branyan has signed with during his major league career.
Former Angels broadcasters Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc have been hired to join the Royals' broadcast team for 2012. Hudler and Physioc worked together on Angels' broadcasts for 10 years until their contracts were not renewed following the 2009 season. They will share time on the Royals' TV and radio broadcasts with Ryan Lefebvre, Jeff Montgomery and Denny Matthews.
OF Vernon Wells said in a recent radio interview that he has been working with former Rangers and current Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo near Wells' offseason home in the Dallas area. Wells is trying to bounce back from the worst season of his career. He hit just .218 with a .248 on-base percentage (lowest among AL hitters who qualified for the batting title) in his first season with the Angels in 2011.
By the Numbers: 17-59 – Angels record last season when scoring three runs or less.
Quote to Note: "Vernon's our left fielder." -- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto when asked if Wells and Mike Trout would compete for that spot in spring training.