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OC Register: Angels’ Peter Bourjos hopes to revive career where it began, thanks to new swing


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  • LDN-ANGELS-SPRING-02-16x91.jpg

    “It’s honestly the best spring I probably ever had,” Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos said. “I put in a lot of work with (hitting coaches Jeremy Reed and Shawn Wooten). I was pretty nervous coming in. I knew the stuff was right. It’s one thing to know it’s right and another thing to apply it.” (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Angels-Giants-Baseball12.jpg

    Los Angeles Angels’ Peter Bourjos stretches before a spring training baseball game Friday, March 15, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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  • Angels-Athletics-Spring-Baseball1.jpg

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos catches a fly ball hit by Oakland Athletics’ Jurickson Profar during the third inning of a spring baseball game in Mesa, Ariz., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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    Los Angeles Angels’ Peter Bourjos reaches for a ball to sign before a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Angels-Padres-Spring-Baseball1.jpg

    Los Angeles Angels’ Justin Bour, middle, celebrates his run scored against the San Diego Padres with Peter Bourjos, right, as Padres catcher Austin Hedges, left, waits at home plate during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • LDN-ANGELS-SPRING-0224-KB7011.jpg

    Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels during a MLB spring training baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-SPRING-0224-KB7111.jpg

    Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels during a MLB spring training baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • imageedit_6_97518575-16x91.jpg

    Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels during a MLB spring training baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-SPRING-0224-KB7311.jpg

    Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels during a MLB spring training baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Angels-Dodgers-Baseball1.jpg

    Los Angeles Angels’ Peter Bourjos reacts after hitting a double during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • LDN-ANGELS-SPRING-0224-KB4111.jpg

    Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels signs autographs prior to a MLB spring training baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, February 23, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Days before spring training began, Peter Bourjos was worried.

He had spent a month changing everything about the way he’d hit for his entire life, and it still didn’t feel right. He had no choice but to try, though.

“I didn’t have much to lose,” Bourjos said. “I told my wife, ‘What’s the worst that happens? I go back to hitting how I used to hit and I’m coaching in a couple years.’”

With just over a week to go in spring training, it seems that Bourjos can continue to delay those post-playing plans. The 31-year-old veteran is 13 for 39 (.333) in spring training, seemingly a lock to win the fourth outfield job.

“It’s honestly the best spring I probably ever had,” Bourjos said. “I put in a lot of work with (hitting coaches Jeremy Reed and Shawn Wooten). I was pretty nervous coming in. I knew the stuff was right. It’s one thing to know it’s right and another thing to apply it.”

Bourjos needed to do something because he had seen his career go in the wrong direction since the Angels traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013.

He had seen his offensive numbers slide as he bounced from team to team, spending most of 2018 in the minors. Last year he hit .289 at Triple-A, but .205 in the majors in just 36 games. It was the only time other than an injury-shortened 2013 when Bourjos played fewer than 100 games in the majors.

“I’d hit well in the minor leagues,” he said. “But you can get away with stuff in the minors. You can’t get away with it up here. You see it over time. It just doesn’t work.”

Bourjos would lean on the railing in the dugout and watch his teammates hit and wonder about his own swing.

“That looks completely different than what I do,” Bourjos explained, “but I don’t know how to change it.”

Bourjos had basically been trained since he got to professional baseball to try to take advantage of his speed by hitting down on the ball.

“I understand why they said that, but at the same time that doesn’t give you a lot of room for error,” he said.

Bourjos also realized the movement of his hands and his feet was not in sync the way it was with other players.

“It was almost like I was disconnected,” he said.

After signing a minor-league deal with the Angels in November, Bourjos got connected with Wooten and Reed, the team’s two new hitting coaches.

In January, they began a full-blown reconstruction of his swing, from the ground up. He worked with one of the coaches just about every day for a month leading up to camp.

Although Bourjos said he felt comfortable that what he was learning was the correct way to fix his swing, it was still an uncomfortable transition. He feared that once he started to see live pitching he’d be lost again.

“I had pieces, but I couldn’t put it together,” Bourjos said. “I was like, Oh boy this is not where I want to be three days before camp. Then everything clicked. I just let it flow and it’s been good. I feel way different in the box and I’m seeing the ball better.”

A recent mini-slump – 0 for 10 with six strikeouts over three games – has not affected the way Manager Brad Ausmus has viewed Bourjos’ spring.

“Just a rough streak, a little strikeout streak,” Ausmus said. “He’ll be fine. We’re not overly concerned about it.”

Bourjos remains the favorite to win a spot on the Opening Day roster, in part because Michael Hermosillo still has not played this spring as he works back from hernia surgery.

“He’s certainly done himself no disservice with the way he’s played,” Ausmus said earlier this week. “He’s hit the ball extremely well. We know he’s a good defender. He’s extremely well-liked in the clubhouse. A lot of guys know him or are familiar with him because he was with the Angels organization before. He’s making a very strong case for being part of the team. Spring is not over, but he’s an easy guy to pull for.”

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Bourjos odds of being decent are probably pretty close to Koles odds. 

Its wild how this guys career has just been wrecked by injury issues. He’s had literally 3 seasons in his career with more then 200 AB’s.  Only one with 500. 

Hopefully he’s learned how to take a walk. 

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33 minutes ago, UndertheHalo said:

Between his perpetually being hurt and sucking otherwise.  Seems like a good bet.  But hey, here’s to hoping it works out. 

Wow.  Nice to see the lack of belief that Bourjos worked hard to change his approach.  

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On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 11:45 PM, UndertheHalo said:

Between his perpetually being hurt and sucking otherwise.  Seems like a good bet.  But hey, here’s to hoping it works out. 

He was 50 for 66 SBs (76%) through 2014, but only 16 for 32 (50%) since then.    Talk about no longer being able to steal bases?

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26 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Pulling hard for him. Have always liked the guy.

Agreed. I've always liked him and it would be really nice to see him have a good year. Resurrect what was once a very promising career. With the wave of young talent we have coming up his future here is likely limited, but I'll continue pulling for him wherever he may land.

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Offense is always way up in Spring Training. You are facing a lot of bad pitchers.  A veteran like Bourjos should do well against young guys and retreads.  I wish I was a "believer" in Bourjesus (he's a nice guy and I saw him hit his first career home run in Minnesota), but the man has a career .240/.296/.382 slash line in 2,288 plate appearances, and he's been worse lately. He seems like a hell of a longshot  to contribute offensively. 

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1 hour ago, ScottT said:

Offense is always way up in Spring Training. You are facing a lot of bad pitchers.  A veteran like Bourjos should do well against young guys and retreads.  I wish I was a "believer" in Bourjesus (he's a nice guy and I saw him hit his first career home run in Minnesota), but the man has a career .240/.296/.382 slash line in 2,288 plate appearances, and he's been worse lately. He seems like a hell of a longshot  to contribute offensively. 

Meh. 4th outfielder. I think he'll be there mainly to give Upton time off late in games (bullpen clapping), and occasional day off for trout.

And to pinch run for albert at DH when pujols' own gravity begins absorbing baseballs for HBPs.

He probably still wont hit well, but I doubt he is much of a negative.

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2 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Meh. 4th outfielder. I think he'll be there mainly to give Upton time off late in games (bullpen clapping), and occasional day off for trout.

And to pinch run for albert at DH when pujols' own gravity begins absorbing baseballs for HBPs.

He probably still wont hit well, but I doubt he is much of a negative.

I bet he faces tough lefties and spells Calhoun or displaces Upton or Trout to DH to replace Bour when Albert plays 1b.  

If they drop down to seven pen arms later in the year I think they'll add a RHed bat to the bench and we might see some Fletcher in the OF with Ward at 3b and Cozart at 2b.  

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