4/26/2013 11:11 P.M. ET
Boujos' improved approach is paying dividends
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Peter Bourjos has yet to use his game-changing speed to attempt a stolen base, but he is using it plenty to get on base.
Heading into Friday's game against the Mariners, the Angels' center fielder led the Majors with 10 infield hits, a big reason he's batting .313, sports a .373 on-base percentage and is consistently starting games atop Mike Scioscia's lineup.
Bourjos' ground-ball-to-fly-ball rate is currently 1.58, a figure that may not rank among the league leaders but is nonetheless high by his standards. In Bourjos' only full season in the Majors in 2011, that rate was only 0.93.
And with speed like his, that can make a major difference.
"Staying on top of the baseball is something I've continued to work on," Bourjos said. "I think that's why you're seeing more ground balls."
Last year, while confined mostly to the bench, Bourjos began swinging the bat off a higher tee in order to get into the habit of getting on top of the ball. He continued that routine through the winter and into the spring, and he believes it has carried over into the season.
Now he's hoping it takes him a step further.
"If you are able to get on top of the ball, you're going to hit more line drives," Bourjos said. "Eventually, as the season goes on, hopefully that's what happens -- the ground balls turn into line drives."
AL West's new look could benefit Trumbo
SEATTLE -- Being somebody of Mark Trumbo's ilk, a right-handed power hitter situated in the American League West, may be a little bit easier in 2013, with the rebuilding Astros now in the division and the Mariners' home ballpark, Safeco Field, sporting shorter fences this season.
Trumbo's power numbers in his first two full seasons in the big leagues -- 61 homers, .484 slugging percentage -- are even more impressive when you consider that his home ballpark, Angel Stadium, plays big at night and that two of his divisional opponents, the A's and Mariners, sport pitcher-friendly venues.
But this year, Trumbo will get nine games at Minute Maid Park, which plays relatively fair, and 10 at a renovated Safeco Field, where the left-center-field power alley has gone from 390 feet to 376.
"Any little bit can help," Trumbo said. "You never know when you might need it."
Trumbo, who hit his third homer on Friday and has hits in 19 of the Angels' 21 games this season, said he never really challenged the deepest parts of the old Safeco Field, and he isn't quite sure what kind of impact more favorable ballparks can have on his production. The more-spacious Safeco Field ranked 29th last year in home runs (0.583 per game). Oakland Coliseum, with its expansive foul territory, ranked 23rd (0.859). And marine layer-riddled Angel Stadium was 25th (0.759).
"I know I've lost some at home and Oakland in particular that I thought I really hit pretty good and they were outs," Trumbo said. "That's disappointing because you do everything right and you get a little momentary feeling of, 'Ah, there you go.' Then the guy catches it and you're like, 'Couldn't have done much better.' You understand that coming in, and one thing you try not to do is get into any kind of habits."
The frustrations of hitting a ball flush and not seeing it go out at the big ballparks, Trumbo said, are "only natural."
"But you have to understand that it's not productive," he added. "There's also going to be times where you get some that you wouldn't have thought were home runs."
Madson's recovery slowed by tightness in arm
SEATTLE -- It's been a week since Angels reliever Ryan Madson faced hitters for the first time, via a simulated game at Angel Stadium on April 19.
He hasn't thrown another since, and none have been scheduled yet.
Instead, Madson -- now a year and two weeks post-Tommy John surgery -- is receiving treatment in Arizona and still trying to overcome that final, elusive hurdle. His expectations of joining the Angels before the end of the month, which he expressed after an encouraging bullpen session at Target Field on April 16, have all but vanished due to some tightness he felt in that sim game seven days ago.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia won't go so far as to say Madson has suffered any sort of setback.
"He wasn't set back for any other reason than normal rehab and trying to get over the final hump," Scioscia said. "That's what rehab is. At times you're going to take a step forward, at times you're going to plateau. He's certainly ready for the challenge of facing hitters."
• Josh Hamilton started his first game of the season at designated hitter on Friday, with Scioscia simply wanting to give him a day off his feet.
• Shortstop Erick Aybar (bruised left heel) served as the designated hitter in his second game of extended spring training in Arizona on Friday and will likely play shortstop on Saturday. Scioscia was non-committal when asked if Aybar can rejoin the team for their series in Oakland early next week.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.