DENVER—Mark Trumbo knows his job. He is expected to hit with power and drive in runs.
And he does it well.
As inconsistent as the opening games of the 2014 season have been for the Diamondbacks, Trumbo has delivered what the team envisioned when they acquired him in the three-team offseason deal that saw Arizona send center fielder
“He is a very formidable bat and a smart hitter,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said after Arizona knocked off the Rockies 5-3 at Coors Field in the season’s opening week.
It was just their second win in nine games, matching the inaugural season of 1998 for the worst start in franchise history. And Trumbo delivered a two-run home run, the 100th of his career.
“It’s something I’m known for,” he said of hitting home runs, “and 100 is a nice round number.”
Five of those home runs and 13 of his 297 big league RBIs have come in six career games at Coors Field, which is not surprising.
“My job,” he said, “is to hit the ball in the air. A stadium like this plays really well for that.”
He has done his job so far in Arizona. Trumbo was leading the major leagues with five home runs and 13 RBIs. He had homered in four straight games, equaling a streak he put together with the Angels in 2012.
“I’ve had hot stretches in the past where the home runs come in bunches,” he said. “I can’t tell you when they are coming or why they happen, but they do happen.”
And the home run at Coors Field happened to come at an opportune time.
It came in a win. It came after the Diamondbacks had taken a 3-0 lead. It sent a message to a Rockies team that had rallied from a four-run deficit for a 9-4 victory the night before that Trumbo and his teammates weren’t backing down.
“When you get blown out, it doesn’t feel great,” Trumbo said. “You enjoy these games more.”
And while Trumbo grew up in Villa Park, Calif., just a couple of miles down the road from the Angels’ home in Anaheim, he is really enjoying being with Arizona.
Even the fact he is being asked to become a full-time outfielder hasn’t been a distraction.
Primarily a first baseman and designated hitter in his four years with the Angels, Trumbo arrived in Arizona after starting 122 games in the Angels’ outfield—57 of which, he had been removed in the late innings.
The Diamondbacks weren’t concerned.
They were confident that, given Trumbo’s pride and work ethic, he’d become a solid outfielder. More importantly, they wanted to add his power bat to the lineup to help offset the focus on Paul Goldschmidt.
So far, so good.
“He has a good attitude,” Gibson said. “He wants to learn. He has done a decent job for us in the outfield. He is a headsy player.”
And he is realistic.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, but it’s coming along,” Trumbo said. “I pride myself on my defense.”
He makes his living swinging the bat.
Trumbo hit 95 home runs in three full seasons with the Angels, driving in 282 runs from 2011-13. He has hit home runs at home (47 in 235 games) and on the road (53 in 234 games). He has hit them off righthanders (one every 18.7 at-bats) and off lefthanders (one every 15.5 at-bats).
That is what caught Arizona’s attention. And Trumbo understands that.
“I don’t care if some people don’t feel (driving in runs) is important, but I feel there’s something to be said for getting a guy home in a pressure situation and the pitcher is bearing down on you, trying to get you out,” he said. “I’ll take the RBI.”
Not that Trumbo is satisfied with his offensive game, particularly the 471 strikeouts in 469 big league games—184 of them last year.
“It’s too many,” he said. “I know that. I want to be a better all-around hitter. I need to be more patient. There’s time to shorten up (the swing) a little with two strikes, but not too much. I know what my job is.”
Nobody can question that.
The results speak for themselves.