The extended injury absence of Kendrys Morales has allowed prospect Mark Trumbo more playing time than anyone would have otherwise predicted for him. Although he hit 36 home runs in 2010 in Salt Lake, Kendrys (then named "Kendry") hit 34 in Anaheim in 2009. The lower altitude and higher league gave Morales the thru-way to the starting job... if only his scar tissue had cooperated.
Prior to this week's groin injury by Vernon Wells, though, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was tinkering with his defensive setup and putting Howie Kendrick at first base for a few starts. As long as Wells is out, expect Trumbo to get a majority of playing time as the Angels starting first base. Trumbo deserves this extended look. He has excelled offensively and defensively. But no player is safe under the watchful eye of the veteran-loving, role-addicted Mike Scioscia. If Scioscia can find a way to carve into Trumbo's, or any young Angel player's playing time, the manager will certainly go out of his way to develop a rigid criteria that stands as a hurdle before the name gets penciled into the lineup.
In 32 games, Trumbo has 30 hits, 12 for extra bases, six home runs, and has scored 14 times. His .777 OPS may not be in the stratosphere that Morales established as an expectation for the position with his breakout 2009, but in an organization still stinging from Brandon Wood as a busted prospect, three sevens as an OPS measurement has to at least be acknowledged as a good foundation.
And so until Vernon Wells returns, the window is open for Trumbo to excel. If he lowers his current strikeout rate of 23%, plays some Scioscia-ball by moving runners over and keeps the power numbers where they are while raising the batting average a little bit, he will keep the job at first base. Anything less, though, and Howie Kendrick will give up second base to a platoon of Alexi Amarista and Maicer Izturis and take over as the everyday Angels first base if and when Vernon Wells returns.
Scioscia's inscrutable ways can be seen as constructing large-scale gradations amidst the short-term pointillism that the day-in and day-out game after game grind of the regular season actually is. He will not hand first base over to Trumbo but he will not carve a platoon into stone either. Trumbo will be on the spot almost continually. Until Vernon heals, it is now for Mark Trumbo. After, it may be never if he cannot perform in the glare of the Scioscia spotlight, if recent performances by other top prospects is anything to gauge the managerial means of Mike.