CF Bourjos wants to help Angels 'turn this thing around'
AUG 09, 2013 9:17a ET
The latest stop on that journey was Thursday night in Round Rock, Texas and it was a successful one.
Successful because he went 1-for-5 with an RBI, a run scored and a great catch in center field for the Angels' Triple A Salt Lake City Bees in his latest rehab assignment. More importantly, though, it was a success because he managed to get through the 16-6 win over the Express in one piece.
After having a breakout 2011 season on offense and defense but faltering throughout most of 2012, this was going to be Bourjos' year — one way or the other. He was either going to start for the Angels and be an important cog as they tried to get back to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Or, he was going to be a golden trading chip for the Halos.
The Washington Nationals had long expressed interest in having the speedy outfielder in their lineup, and when the Angels signed free agent Josh Hamilton away from division rival Texas, Bourjos appeared headed to the Nats and a chance to resurrect his career from the ashes of 2012. However, when manager Mike Scioscia announced that Bourjos was not going to be traded, it looked like the 26-year-old was destined to watch his career pass by him from the confines of the Angels' dugout.
"I tried to stay positive," he said a few hours before joining rehabbing lefty Jason Vargas for a flight to Texas to join Triple A Salt Lake City and go against the Rangers' affiliate. "But when you have (Mike) Trout, Josh Hamilton and Mark (Trumbo) out there ahead of you, it was tough. Frustrating is probably a better word.
"After last season I knew I needed to play to put my game back on the right track. I wanted it to be with the Angels, but I was at the point that I just wanted to PLAY."
Scioscia said during the winter that he had faith in Bourjos and that he would find ways to help the Angels win games. The veteran manager turned out to be prescient.
When Albert Pujols reinjured his plantar fascia early on, it meant that while Pujols his as the DH, Trumbo would play a lot of first base. That opened up a spot for Bourjos in the outfield, and he caught fire, hitting .313 before a pulled hamstring cost him 38 games on the DL. He came back in June and hit .370 for the month and looked like he had locked up a starting job for a long time to come. But the injury bug had other ideas.
In a June 29th game against the Astros, Bourjos took a fastball off the right wrist and a not-so-nice gift came along with it—six more weeks on the disabled list.
"You always know that as a player injuries are part of the game," said Scioscia, "but Pete seemed to really have a tough time of it so far this season. I think he was on his way to as good or better a year than in 2011. Now you may have to wonder ‘what if?'"
Bourjos knows about baseball's ups and down. His father, Chris, played for the San Francisco Giants. And Peter agrees that the frustration can get ridiculous sometimes — especially mentally — but he intends never to give in to the negative.
"The last two years have been crazy," he said behind a wistful laugh, "but this is what I love to do and this is where I want to play. So, I'll just keep going out there and playing as hard as I can when I get back and try to help us turn this thing around."
The ever-optimistic centerfielder hopes to return to the 51-62 Halos next week in New York.
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