Bourjos Takes Over In Center

TEMPE, Ariz. The winners were the same, three years running. The American League Gold Glove outfield, from 2004-06: Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter.

Hunter won nine Gold Gloves in center field, Wells three. Hunter and Wells each play for the Angels now, but the center fielder is a 23-year-old with 51 games of major league experience.
Hunter moved to right field last summer, to accommodate the arrival of Peter Bourjos. When the Angels acquired Wells in January, they asked him to move to left field so Bourjos could remain in center.

Bourjos was flattered by the trade, but frustrated at first.

"I thought I was going back to (Triple-A) Salt Lake," said Bourjos, a 2005 10th-round pick out of Notre Dame High in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Angels rushed Bourjos to the major leagues last August, with Hunter exhausted from essentially covering all three outfield positions and watching too many fly balls drop in front of left fielder Juan Rivera and right fielder Bobby Abreu.

The Angels aren't going to outslug anyone this season. They'll win with pitching and defense, and an outfield alignment of Wells, Bourjos and Hunter is the best way to support Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, the fly-ball pitchers atop their starting rotation.

As much as they appreciate Bourjos' defense, their limited offensive capabilities could make it difficult for them to keep him in the lineup without a contribution at the plate. In his 51 games in the majors last season, Bourjos batted .204/.237/.381.


* Bobby Wilson, 27, said he lost 33 pounds over the winter. The trade of Mike Napoli left Wilson vying with Jeff Mathis and Hank Conger at catcher.

* Mark Trumbo, 25, could make the Opening Day roster if the Angels limit Kendry Morales to DH early on. Trumbo batted .301/.368/.577 at Salt Lake last year with a Pacific Coast League-high 36 homers, 122 RBIs and 126 strikeouts.