TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels suddenly appear to have solid organizational depth at first base with Mark Trumbo, Efren Navarro and Gabe Jacobo behind Kendry Morales.
Trumbo has hit several classic shots already this spring as Morales eases into his comeback from lower left leg surgery, and Jacobo is coming off a 22-homer, 107-RBI season at advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Trumbo, who tied for the lead in the Minor Leagues with 36 homers while producing 122 RBIs at Triple-A Salt Lake, was the Angels' Minor League Player of the Year for 2010, while Jacobo was the Defensive Player of the Year.
After getting off to a slow start at Double-A Arkansas, Navarro, 24, finished with a .267 average, six homers and 50 RBIs. A 50th-round Draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he has been impressive this spring with four hits in seven at-bats (.571). He adroitly went the other way with a two-out, RBI double in the ninth inning on Saturday against the Brewers.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia credited meetings with Abe Flores, director of player development, and roving hitting instructor Todd Takayoshi with turning Navarro's 2010 season around.
"Efren's a guy who really started our poorly last year at Double-A," Scioscia said. "He hit .310 the second half of the season at Arkansas, showing some power. This guy definitely is Gold Glove caliber. He's as good a defender as you're going to see at first base. His ability to be an effective hitter is along the lines of Mark Grace."
Weaver likes the look of the Angels' outfield
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jered Weaver is a fly-ball pitcher, and he figures that's a plus with the outfield defense the Angels are setting up this season.
In his second Cactus League start, on Sunday, Weaver watched new left fielder Vernon Wells make a spectacular diving catch to rob Melvin Mora of extra bases in the second inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium, saving a run during the Halos' 7-2 win over the D-backs.
"We strive on our defense to win," Weaver said. "I told [Wells] coming into the dugout, he doesn't need to be doing that this early. `Natural instincts,' he said."
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
News & Features
- Star-laden Angels, Dodgers drawing national attention
- Madson to travel with team, continue rehab on road
- Worth noting
- After rough start to spring, 'pen turning it around
- Blanton impressive, but Angels held to just two hits
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
With Wells in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Torii Hunter in right, the Angels have three natural center fielders in the same outfield. They have blended seamlessly, catching everything in sight. Outfield defense was substandard last year before Bourjos arrived in August with his swift wheels, moving nine-time Gold Glove winner Hunter to right.
"With those guys out there, I don't need to be too fine," said Weaver, who was careful not to criticize his outfield last season.
The ace said he was "pushing the ball early," but was pleased with his offspeed stuff and location while stretching it out, yielding three hits and a run with three strikeouts in three innings.
Weaver, with little in the way of run support, went 13-12 last year while finishing fifth in the American League in ERA at 3.01, and leading the Majors in strikeouts with 233. He liked the sound of the offense on Sunday, with three of its six doubles (and four runs) coming against former Angels southpaw Joe Saunders, who pitched two-plus innings.
"If a couple of guys step up," Weaver said when asked about the Angels' offense, "we're going to be fun to watch."
Haren, Santana pitching smarter with less zip
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Dan Haren doesn't throw as hard as he once did. Neither does Ervin Santana. What they've lost in a few miles per hour they've compensated for in fuel efficiency and an understanding of the value of quick outs with superior command.
"Haren was 93, 94 [mph on the radar gun] in Oakland," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Here, he's at 90, 91 with better command. He's evolved into more of a pitcher than a guy with dominant stuff.
"This guy, mentally, he's as tough as any pitcher I've seen. His ability to command the ball lowers some pitch counts for him. And he works harder to bounce back. With most Major League pitchers, they have that mentality."
Santana, at 28, generally keeps his fastball in the 91-94 mph range -- down from 93-97 in his youth. Two years younger than Haren, he has made 170 career starts compared to Haren's 222. Santana is 76-55 with a 4.39 ERA, Haren has gone 91-74 with a 3.66.
"Ervin in '06, when he had the power fastball, one of his flaws was he was trying to strike guys out in an 0-0 count," Scioscia said. "He wanted everybody to swing and miss. He understands now that good command and good counts lead to fewer pitches. He still has a good fastball with good command, and he's evolved into a more efficient pitcher as he moves forward."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.