The only Angel player capable of putting on a batting-practice show to rival that of Albert Pujols is hoping it's the superstar's patience, not his power, that rubs off.
Mark Trumbo has been launching missiles all over Tempe Diablo Stadium this week, including a soaring shot over the center-field batter's eye Thursday, a poke of at least 460 feet. There's a lot to like about Trumbo's hitting -- his leverage, his ability to drive in runs, his knack for performing in the clutch -- but there's one major blemish. Trumbo doesn't get on base.
Trumbo, 26, walked just 25 times last year and his .291 on-base percentage was lower than all but 10 major-league hitters with the qualifying at-bats.
The other day, while going through drills at first base, Trumbo asked Pujols to give him pointers on controlling counts. Pujols has an almost-absurd career .420 on-base percentage. Pujols advised him to learn pitchers better and not to be afraid of taking a third strike.
"You don't want to strike out looking, but sometimes when you protect the strike zone you end up expanding it," Trumbo said. "I think it's pretty realistic that I can improve in that department, it's a goal, but you can't compare yourself to Albert because he's the best hitter on the planet."
Trumbo swung at more pitches above the strike zone than any hitter in baseball last season, according to ESPN Stats and Info, but he said that's not his primary concern. He moved closer to the plate so he can avoid swinging at outside pitches, particularly breaking balls. Trumbo's power often comes from high fastballs and he's wary of sapping a strength to shore up a weakness.
Trumbo had an outstanding .368 on-base percentage in his last year at Triple-A, so his quest is far from a hopeless one.
"On-base percentage sometimes is a tough thing to force. Pitchers have to cooperate," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You don't want a guy like Trumbo to sacrifice some of the power to try to get a little more on-base if he starts to take pitches in counts where he could have driven a ball. But nobody's going to say an on-base percentage increase from a player isn't a beautiful thing."