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Angels Morning Briefing: Peter Bourjos' speed a source of excitement

March 19, 2011 | 11:48 am

Bourjos_350 Peter Bourjos has done things in recent days that stir the wild optimism that fuels spring training.

Thursday, Bourjos made a spectacular sprint and catch of a ball against the San Francisco Giants that brought the team's baseball lifer Manager Mike Scioscia to comment that only a few in the sport's history -- Willie Mays and Paul Blair among them -- could've done the same thing.

In Friday's game, Bourjos laid down a bunt toward third in which the fielder effectively surrendered, making almost no motion toward the ball as Bourjos sped toward first. He then stole second base in another uncontested event.

"I try to use my speed to my advantage," the 24-year-old Bourjos said Saturday in an understatement that could help define the Angels' 2011 season.

Regarding the catch, he said, "That ball kind of hung up there. I've had some more challenging plays, like that one in left-center last year in Anaheim."

He's spending time on the finer points of his position here in Tempe, Ariz., improving his jumps on the ball, fielding and throwing.

Of the bunting, Bourjos said, "I spent 30 minutes with [roving bunting coach] Bobby Mitchell Friday. My thing is, if you work on it, take it into the game. If not, it's a waste."

Bourjos swiped 10 bases in 51 games and Scioscia said Saturday he envisions lineups that have Bourjos batting leadoff, rather than ninth.

Bourjos declined to predict how many bags he'd steal.

"As many as I can get," he said, well aware of his manager's fondness for aggressive baserunning. "I don't want to put a limit on it."

TODAY'S LINEUP: In Saturday's 1 p.m. game against the Cleveland Indians at Diablo Stadium, Scott Kazmir will be the starting pitcher and Scioscia said he expects the left-hander to work into the sixth inning. The lineup: 1) Maicier Izturis, 3B; 2) Howie Kendrick, 2B; 3) Bobby Abreu, DH; 4) Torii Hunter, RF; 5) Vernon Wells, LF; 6) Erick Aybar, SS; 7) Bobby Wilson, 1B; 8) Hank Conger, C; 9) Peter Bourjos, CF.

MORALES UPDATE: Angels slugger Kendrys Morales did some running on the team's minor fields Saturday morning but stopped short of trying the cuts and turns that will most test his recovery from last year's fractured lower leg and surgery.

Scioscia earlier this spring said he wanted Morales to start appearing in games by this weekend to be ready for the March 31 opener in Kansas City.

Saturday, Scioscia said, "At the point now, it probably will impact the beginning of the season."

THE FALLBACK PLAN: Scioscia cautions that while he's "very comfortable" in first baseman Mark Trumbo's five-homer, 13-RBI spring it's "nothing that translates" to the challenge of the regular season.

Still, given that Kendrick and backup catcher Wilson have made spring starts at first as Trumbo recovers from minor right groin soreness, the Villa Park product is strongly positioned to fill in at first until Morales recovers.

(UPDATE, 12:54 p.m.: Correction: A prior version of this post said Trumbo is recovering from minor calf soreness.) 

The other element is filling the hole in the batting order, and Scioscia said he's envisioning putting Bobby Abreu there. Batting third Friday, Abreu homered to left and right-center.

"I have no problem with that," Abreu said, smiling at Scioscia's plan. "I've been in that spot for a long time in my career. I'm making good contact driving the ball, hitting it the other way.

"We have a good team and until [Morales] comes back, me, Torii [Hunter] and Vernon Wells can drive guys in and hit homers."

SUNNY DAYS: Oakley sunglasses representatives visited the clubhouse Friday and were swarmed by players and coaches eager to trade up into the company’s newest line, free of charge.

The Orange County-based company offers a trade-in day to all 30 MLB teams, and have boosted their product recognition by crafting signature shades to former closers Eric Gagne of the Dodgers and Francisco Rodriguez when “K-Rod” pitched for the Angels.

Company rep Gary Gant said Wells will don a signature pair this year known as “Fast Jacket,” a black-framed, “fire”-colored lens.

--Lance Pugmire

Photo: Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos scores a run against the Dodgers during an exhibition game last month. Credit: John E. Sokolowski / Associated Press