Freese making the most of his fresh start in '15

Freese making the most of his fresh start in '15

ANAHEIM - David Freese doesn't recognize who he was 12 months ago.

"I don't even remember how I felt last year," Freese said after his Angels lost to the Royals, 4-2, on Friday night. "But physically, mentally, it's just not where I'm at now. Things are good right now, and I like where I'm at."

Freese hit his second home run of the season in the Angels' fourth game, a towering shot to dead center field and one of only three extra-base hits for the club.

Last year, his first with the Angels, Freese didn't hit his second home run until the team's 24th game. The 31-year-old third baseman finished the month of May with a .203/.262/.273 slash line, and he needed a .281/.343/.425 mark over the last four months just to get his final numbers -- .260 batting average, 10 homers, 55 RBIs -- to a respectable level.

The Angels entered this season without Howie Kendrick, and with no clue what will happen with Josh Hamilton.

They needed Freese to stretch those four months from last year into a full season this year.

"I think about it," Freese said. "But it's just like when big-time guys get injured throughout the season. You can't put too much pressure on yourself. That's when you make a U-turn and go backwards. You just try to do your part. Fortunately, with this club, we have a stacked lineup, so you don't have to do too much."

The season is still young, and Freese is only 4-for-15 with four strikeouts, so it's not as if he's setting the world on fire. But he batted .364 in Spring Training and his regular-season homers have been hit up the middle and the other way -- an indication that his timing is right.

"I'm just trying to put an 'A' swing on something," Freese said. "You have a good path, use your legs and you get through it. The poles are wide enough apart. There's some room out there."

Freese is the Angels' No. 5 hitter against righties and their cleanup hitter against lefties. He's also their full nine-inning third baseman, after frequently being replaced late in games by the since-retired John McDonald last season.

Freese's barehanded gem

Freese made a few nice defensive plays on Friday, ranging way to his left to field an Eric Hosmer grounder in the eighth and making a bare-hand play on an Alcides Escobar bunt in the ninth. He entered camp at about the same playing weight, but "redistributed it," in Freese's words -- and it's showing up on defense.

"He's got a little bit more hop to his step," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

"It's something that I worked on in camp, just physically being more active and getting my feet under me a little bit better," Freese said. "Tonight, it was just about having the opportunities to make plays and move around."

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.