Peter Bourjos gets the nod over Bobby Abreu in Angels outfield vs. Mets
It pained Mike Scioscia to bench the Angels' designated hitter and most productive batter Friday night, but one look at the expansive outfield in Citi Field made the manager's decision to start lighter-hitting but speedy Peter Bourjos in the outfield over Bobby Abreu a little easier.
The center-field wall in the new home of the New York Mets is 408 feet away from home plate. The gap in left-center field is 384 feet away, and the gap in right-center actually juts out to 415 feet at one point.
"This might be the most spacious outfield going," Scioscia said. "This is one of those fields where we can take advantage of our athleticism, where that might make a difference."
Bourjos has been a difference-maker on defense, but he's hitting only .250 this season with a .306 on-base percentage and 14 runs batted in. Abreu is hitting .290 with a .403 on-base percentage and 30 RBIs, and his .407 average (22 for 54) since May 29 is the fourth-highest in baseball.
But Abreu is also 37, and though he has started 17 games in the outfield this season, he is not as fast or athletic as Vernon Wells, who will start in left field Friday night. Because American League teams can't use the DH in interleague games in National League parks, Abreu will be on the bench.
"It's not too tough to take, it's not a big deal," Abreu said. "It's a good thing we have Peter and Wells, guys who cover a lot of ground in the outfield. There's nothing wrong with having those guys out there to help you out."
Friday night's game against the Mets is the first of nine for the Angels in NL parks, and Scioscia said that Abreu "is not going to sit in all these games. He's going to play at some point." The Angels are 26-10 in interleague games on the road since 2007, the best record in baseball during that span.
The Angels lineup: 3B Maicer Izturis, SS Erick Aybar, RF Torii Hunter, LF Wells, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Mark Trumbo, CF Bourjos, C Jeff Mathis, P Joel Pineiro.
The Mets lineup: SS Jose Reyes, 3B Justin Turner, RF Carlos Beltran, 1B Daniel Murphy, CF Angel Pagan, LF Jason Bay, C Ronny Paulino, 2B Ruben Tejada, P Chris Capuano.
-- Mike DiGiovanna in New York
Photo: Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos follows through on a double against the Mariners in the first inning Tuesday at Seattle. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press