It’s hard to think about the Angels without considering Mark Trumbo, nowadays. He’s pretty much put himself front and center, although he belongs in right and has carved out that territory. Sorry, Torii, we still love you.
Recently, I was listening in on some audio as Trumbo tried to explain how one day he could have the worst professional day of his life and then go 4-for-4 the next day, which could have made him a little crazy. Of course, it is baseball. He must have tried to explain this so many times and in so many ways: to media, to friends, to a life partner. You can’t be a hitter and hide a day like he had, ESPN and all that. Of course, 4-for-4 yesterday means nothing tomorrow.
So what is running through Mark's head as he peers out there, good day or bad, at a guy that has a state of the art arm and a rock the shape he's been throwing since he was 3-years old? He's thinking, I'm gonna keep my eyes open because if I piss this guy off he'll decide he's Juan Marichal and will trim my sideburns way up around my ears. He's thinking, I could end up with little red marks on the side of my face or a seam imprint on my forehead. Jered, Dan, CJ, you guys are behind me, right?
To be fair, the pitcher is wondering what happens if Trumbo relaxes on his back heel back and goes up the middle. He about what, 6'4"? 220 or so? If you were pitching you might start wondering how quickly you can throw those rocks, and be storing an extra one somewhere on your person because this guy standing at the plate is not a middle infielder. It's Mr. Trumbo standing there looking gentle but not quite sure what he wants to do with that stick. A bit fearsome in my eyes.
And Trumbo is not confused, that's not what I meant. Someone has whispered in his ear, and I'm thinking Mickey Hatcher. Keep it simple, he says. Let's make it easy: watch the ball, can you see the spin? When the ball looks big hit it as far as you can. Pitchers like to get ahead in the count, you might see a fat pitch early. We're getting paid for this, so there's no rush but don't get cheated. You are a hitter, swing the bat.
If it was me in the batters box I'd know the pitcher had the edge. But Mr. Trumbo is different. I pulled up the video of his 4-for-4, and standing there looking at the pitcher, Trumbo was smiling. Not a bullshit smile, a real one. He wasn't worried where his feet were, or if his hips were square. He was just looking out there at the rock thrower. Like, dude you're cool but I'm not caring what comes out of your hand. I'm going to hit it.
I'm not sure who it was but someone turned him loose and said have fun, and it shows in that smile.
I listened to his audio description about that game. The wonder came through in his voice. "How did I do that?" he seemed to ask. He was a pitcher to begin with, which could help in the long run. He's thrown a rock here and there. Meanwhile, he’s learning to hit. His joy has made me remember how it felt to play the game, but the point is he knows every day changes and you play if you can, not for the numbers.
Any GM would be standing in line to hire Mark Trumbo, he’s just the guy you want working for you. As a fan I may have overlooked the fact the Angels have developed some exceptional players talent-wise and person-wise. I overlooked Trumbo as he was coming up but that was more about forgetting that good people can learn; that’s what life is about. Who is he about to become?
I get it that the organization will produce some players that will make the major-league roster, and some really good players. Progress is expected, but somehow the Angels are now back to where young players may get shuffled off because there’s no spot for them. That's a good thing.
Trumbo was not meant as the right-fielder of the future, but there he is. My take is give him a chance to play and he’ll stand on the rocks or wherever he’s penciled in, smiling. He’ll drop in on a helicopter. I like that player on the team. I'll so laugh when next spring Trumbo is moved to catcher, but Mark won't blink. Wilson and Conger must have that thought swirling in the back of their heads and will be dropping dual loads if Scioscia just wonders how quick Trumbo could throw down to second.
I don't think it matters what position he's playing. Trumbo will show up, spit in his hands and reach for the lumber. A pro and still growing, it's pretty cool to have him around.