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Mike Trout's return will cut into playing time for Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu

August 19, 2011 |  5:38 pm

Trout_640 The return of 20-year-old outfielder Mike Trout, who was called up from double-A Arkansas on Friday, will push struggling veteran outfielders Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu into more part-time roles, Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Scioscia held lengthy, individual closed-door meetings before Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles with Wells, who is hitting .200 with 17 home runs and 46 runs batted in, and Abreu, who is hitting .252 with six homers and 45 RBIs. Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was present for both meetings.

Trout, who has played mostly center field, will start in right field Friday night, with regular right fielder Torii Hunter sliding to designated hitter.

Scioscia said Trout will start at least three or four times a week, mostly in the corner spots and occasionally in center field. Abreu probably will sit against left-handers, and Wells will be on the bench against more right-handers.

“There will be times Bobby and Vernon are not in the lineup, but [Trout’s playing time] is not going to be totally at their expense,” Scioscia said. “There will be times Peter needs a break. There will be ways to use Mike that won’t just affect Vernon and Bobby.”

The promotion of catcher Hank Conger from triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday night also will cut into Jeff Mathis’ playing time.

Mathis is clearly the team’s best defensive catcher, but he’s batting .176 with two homers and 17 RBIs. Scioscia said Conger will catch Saturday and Sunday.

Who catches, Scioscia said, “will be contingent on how guys are playing. As much as Jeff has been nonexistent on the offensive side, he’s been very important on the defensive side. But it’s tough to absorb no offense from one position.”

The moves were made in an effort to bolster a sagging offense that has hit a major league-low .221 since the All-Star break, has been shut out 11 times this season and has been limited to one run or no runs 28 times.

“Hopefully,” Scioscia said, “we’ll get a little boost from this.”


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--Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Mike Trout. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images