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.
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 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."