Friday, September 9, 2011
Trout and Walden learning as they go
By Mark Saxon
With first-year players, the challenge is always reacting to what other teams do against them once they learn their weaknesses. Lately, Mike Trout and Jordan Walden have been busy making adjustments.
Trout has cooled off on this homestand, going 0 for his last 12. He said opposing pitchers, who now have more complete scouting reports on him, have been pounding him inside with fastballs. He has long arms and looks to drive balls that are out over the plate.
"They're not letting me get extended," Trout said. "They're definitely attacking your weakness up here more than they did down there. I just have to be a little quicker and, hopefully, it's a good thing because if they miss with a specific pitch, I can drive it."
Walden is trying to shorten his delivery to the plate. Runners have been successful in 13 of the 14 base-stealing attempts off the first-year closer.
"Just about every closer has had to do it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Everyone from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon, the top-echelon closers, has had to understand how to control the running game late. Jordan will definitely start to understand and make that adjustment."
The strength of Walden's arm might be a bigger factor. He recently got an extended break, pitching in two of just 13 games, and he said the ball came out of his hand with more life in his most recent outing, Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. It was a 1-2-3 inning.
"I went through a little stage where my arm felt a little dead," Walden said. "You feel like you're letting it go and it doesn't come out near as hot as you thought it would. The other night, it felt totally different."
Trout sat out Friday night's game against right-hander Bartolo Colon, but will play Saturday against CC Sabathia, Scioscia said. Seven of Trout's 11 starts since he came back have been against lefties. Here are lineups for Friday: