Angels: Russell Branyan to cut into Mark Trumbo's playing time at first base
The Angels acquired Russell Branyan to be more of a first baseman than an outfielder, with General Manager Tony Reagins saying Thursday that the veteran slugger, who bats left-handed, will likely share first base with the right-handed-batting Mark Trumbo.
"We've had some discussions over the last two weeks about the offense and being able to match up Trumbo better against left-handed pitching," Reagins said. "Russell's name came up, and we thought he was a viable option to give Mark some breaks against right-handed pitching."
Trumbo, a rookie from Villa Park High School, entered Thursday's game against the A's with a .245 average, seven home runs and 21 runs batted in. He was hitting .222 (24 for 108) with four homers and 14 RBIs against right-handers and .294 (15 for 51) with three homers and seven RBIs versus lefties.
Branyan, 35, is a career .234 hitter with 190 home runs and 455 RBIs in eight-plus major-league seasons, but he has hit better against right-handers (.240, 155 homers) than lefties (.206, 35 homers).
The signing of Branyan, however, won't mean Trumbo will never play against right-handers. Reagins said the move would enable the Angels to start designated hitter Bobby Abreu more in left field and use Branyan as a DH.
Though Branyan has started 221 big-league games in the outfield, Reagins said he "is not likely an option" to fill in for injured left fielders Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick, who are both on the disabled list.
Branyan was released by Arizona on Wednesday after hitting .210 with one homer and two RBIs in 31 games, but he is one of only 11 American League players to record at least 25 home runs in each of the last two seasons. Branyan also struck out 133 times in 2019 and 149 times in 2009.
"We know what we're getting; we know what his history is," Reagins said. "We know he strikes out a lot, but we know he can also change a game with one swing. We're excited about him helping us win ballgames."
Reagins said he had "no concerns" about the move affecting Trumbo's confidence.
"We know the type of player Mark is," Reagins said. "He understand the game. We're trying to put him in situations to be successful, and if that means him seeing more left-handed pitching, he'll see more left-handed pitching."
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Russell Branyan. He is now with the Angels. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire