After a 5-4 homestand and a Thursday off-day, the Angels will be in Colorado for the start of six straight road games against National League teams, hoping to capitalize on an Interleague schedule that has been favorable to them in the past.
A recent surge has catapulted them to second place in the American League West and put their record at .500, but the Angels essentially treaded water over the last week or so, and a lot of questions linger about the immediate future.
So, let's dive right in ...
What are the Angels' plans for Mark Trumbo defensively for the remainder of this year and in the future? Will they try to play him at third base still?
-- Paul I., Pomona, Calif.
Trumbo and manager Mike Scioscia haven't completely eliminated the possibility of third base, but it's obviously on the shelf. Deep on the shelf. Trumbo hasn't started a game at third since May 3, and I've hardly seen him taking ground balls there recently. Simply put, Vernon Wells' thumb surgery provided a convenient set of circumstances for Scioscia, who can play Trumbo in the corner outfield -- where he's a lot more comfortable -- and get better defense at third base by using Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis.
Next year, if Torii Hunter departs via free agency, there would be a corner-outfield spot open for Trumbo. As for this year? That would depend on how much time Wells sees in left field when he returns from thumb surgery, probably in late July or early August. A lot can change before then, but two things are certain: Trumbo needs to play every day, and Scioscia prefers that it not be at the hot corner.
Should the Angels try to trade for Kevin Youkilis to play third base?
-- Don B., Burbank, Calif.
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With the non-waiver Trade Deadline less than eight weeks away, Youkilis seems to be the most intriguing name, because of how much of a difference-maker he is and because the presence of young third baseman Will Middlebrooks could make him expendable to the Red Sox.
Will Boston actually end up trading him? That remains to be seen. But if the Angels are "buyers" in July, third base (a position where they rank 28th in the Majors in OPS) would seemingly be their biggest area of need. That, in turn, would make it hard to justify not taking a run at a guy like Youkilis.
He's a big upgrade over the Angels' third-base combo of Izturis and Callaspo and is extra enticing considering he's signed only through this season. (His current deal has him making $12 million this year, with a $13 million club option that can be bought out for $1 million.)
Two big questions for the Angels if they do decide to get in on Youk ...
1. Can they afford to add payroll, even if it's just the prorated share of his deal?
2. Will they have enough, particularly in their farm system, to beat out all the other teams that could be interested?
What's up with Peter Bourjos? I know I already asked this question a couple of months ago, but he's still not playing and I'm very worried because he has all the skills to be the next Hunter. I think we are wasting him on the bench. At least he could be in Triple-A making some adjustments.
-- Rodolfo M., Caracas, Venezuela
Bourjos has had a really hard time getting in the lineup since Mike Trout's April 28 callup. He's started only 14 of the Angels' 35 games since the start of May and has been relegated to a bench role, getting the occasional start but mostly coming in as a late defensive replacement when the Angels are leading.
With game-changing speed, spectacular defense, upside at the plate and arbitration still a couple years away, Bourjos holds a lot of value in the trade market. Those would also seem like reasons for the Angels to keep him -- an intention the front office has continually relayed -- but it's fair to wonder about his future on this team right now.
What happens when Wells returns?
-- Scott D.
Things get interesting and confusing. Asked about that recently, Wells said: "I think there's still a spot for me in left [field]. ... We'll just rotate. And I'll be a cheerleader half the time and play some of the time."
But nobody knows for sure. The magnitude of Wells' contract tends to play a hand in these types of decisions, but if it's late in the season and the Angels are fighting for a playoff spot, that goes completely out the window.
Does Garrett Richards have a shot at staying in the rotation even after Jered Weaver comes back? I really love the kid and think he can be a front-line starter down the road.
-- Javier C., Reno, Nev.
It doesn't look like it right now. On Wednesday, Scioscia was asked about the struggling Ervin Santana going to the bullpen and Richards staying in the rotation when Weaver returns, and the manager essentially dismissed it, saying: "We're not contemplating anything like that. ... Ervin is a guy that we're counting very heavily on and have a lot of confidence that he's going to pitch more to his ability than what we saw, maybe, the last couple of starts. That's where we're at right now."
Scioscia said Richards isn't really an option to go to the bullpen, either, since he needs to stay stretched out. That leaves him as a prime candidate to be optioned back to Triple-A Salt Lake once Weaver returns. But the 24-year-old can make a really strong statement with another dominant start.
Do you know why John Hester hasn't been getting more playing time at catcher? I know the sample size may be small, but he is hitting over .300.
-- Michael N., Newport Beach, Calif.
I think you just answered your own question, Michael. The sample size is very small. Twenty-two at-bats, to be exact. Hester has done yeoman's work learning a new pitching staff on the fly since being called up in mid-May, which came only a couple weeks after he was signed to a Minor League contract. But I expect Hank Conger to get most of the time behind the plate until Bobby Wilson (concussion) or Chris Iannetta (right wrist surgery) returns.
Do you feel Jordan Walden's focus on his changeup has hindered his ability to command his slider?
-- Ben C.
It's an interesting theory, Ben, but I'm not sure how valid it is. Walden did put an extra emphasis on his changeup in Spring Training, but he hasn't really thrown it much this year. Only 7.1 percent of his pitches have been changeups, which is higher than last year's 2.9 percent but obviously still not much. I actually think Walden's slider has been better since he was demoted from the closer's role earlier. He threw four of them in Tuesday's ninth inning -- one was a ball and one was a single, but two others resulted in swings and misses.