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Monday, June 27, 2011
The loud return of Peter Bourjos' bat

By Mark Saxon

Peter Bourjos makes so much noise in the field, thundering after balls headed for extra bases, a month can go by before you realize half his job is to make loud sounds using his bat.

Very few American League teams can afford to carry defensive specialists at more than one position, which is why you could argue convincingly that there's only room for either Bourjos or Jeff Mathis in this Angels lineup over the long run. For a while, it was looking like Bourjos simply wasn't going to be a two-dimensional player, which would have put the Angels in a tricky spot.

He batted .176 in May, the strikeouts seeming to pile up around him and threaten to bury him in his first full season.

But working with Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher -- the bullseye for so many Angels' fans ire these days -- Bourjos pinpointed a flaw in his swing a couple of weeks ago. An upper cut had wormed its way into his swing plane and that's the last thing a player with his speed wants.

Since that day, Bourjos is batting .444 in 10 games, capped by his four-hit performance in Monday' 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals in 10 innings. Bourjos sparked the winning rally by slamming a double that hopped into the crowd past the short right-field fence.

When Bourjos is driving the ball hard the other way, it usually means his swing is where it needs to be.

"When I got hot at Salt Lake last year, that's where a lot of my hits were," Bourjos said.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia wants to see Bourjos shorten his swing and use all fields. He'd also like to see Hatcher get a little credit every once in a while rather than taking nothing but blame for a bad year for the Angels' offense.

"It's a lot of hard work," Scioscia said. "He's making a lot of adjustments, Mickey's doing an incredible job with him and he's, hopefully, getting comfortable where he can start to use one of his best assets, and that's his speed."