Bourjos got off to a strong start in 2012 for the Angels. He collected two hits on opening day against the Kansas City Royals in a 5-0 victory, scoring a run and driving in another.
That just may have been the high point of the season for Bourjos.
As the Angels struggled in losing 15 of 23 games in the month of April, Bourjos scuffled himself. By the end of the month, Bourjos was hitting just .167 and had lost his everyday job to promising rookie Mike Trout.
With Trout off to a hot start, Bourjos' fate was sealed. He would be relegated to pinch-running duties and served as a late-inning defensive replacement for much of the rest of the season. In addition, Bourjos was mentioned in several trade rumors throughout the rest of the year.
After a promising 2011 campaign in which he hit .271 with a league-leading 11 triples and 22 stolen bases, the 2012 season stood out in stark contrast. It seemed that Bourjos' time in Anaheim was limited at best.
However, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto wasn't about to let the speedy center fielder languish for very long. In fact, Dipoto believed in Bourjos so much that he was willing to let popular right fielder Torii Hunter depart via free agency.
While Hunter's departure was partly due to payroll constraints, Dipoto also knew what he had in Bourjos.
"He's a terrific defensive center fielder; he can fly, and he's done it before," Dipoto said in November. "We've seen what he's capable of when given an opportunity to play. We believe in Pete's upside. He has the ability to play every day in the big leagues."
Gone too was Kendrys Morales, traded to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas. With Morales out of the picture, it meant that Mark Trumbo would likely take over as the primary designated hitter. Trout will move to left field, putting Bourjos back on the field and giving him a second chance.
Now, with Josh Hamilton on board and slated to start in right field, the Angels will employ three center fielders to roam their outfield, with Bourjos squarely in the middle.
The good news for Bourjos is that with the explosive offense and the solid construction of the Angels' batting order, he won't be under heavy pressure to excel at the plate.
At the same time, the Angels will expect much more than a .291 on-base percentage and .606 OPS.
Bourjos has excelled at every level since being drafted by the Angels in the 10th round of the 2005 MLB draft. In 2010, Bourjos was hitting .314 with 27 stolen bases at Triple-A Salt Lake. At the time, the Angels made the decision to move nine-time Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder Torii Hunter to right field so that Bourjos could make his major-league debut.
Now, two other center fielders -- Trout and Hamilton -- are being displaced in order to accommodate Bourjos.
A second chance, indeed.
Ideally, Bourjos would be a great fit hitting behind Trout at the top of the Angels' batting order. Two of the fastest players in baseball would be setting the table for Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Trumbo.
For now, however, Bourjos will likely start the 2013 hitting ninth. Considering how his 2012 season ended, he's probably not complaining much.
If Bourjos reverts to 2011 form, the Angels won't be complaining much, either.
Doug Mead is a freelance sportswriter living in the Los Angeles area. His work has been featured in Bleacher Report, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
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- Peter Bourjos
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