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Trout missing Pujols' protection

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is finding out that life is different without Albert Pujols hitting behind him.

In the two weeks since Pujols was sidelined with a torn plantar fascia, Trout has seen pitchers walk him three times more frequently. He drew 49 walks in his first 462 plate appearances, mostly with Pujols behind him, but 18 in his next 54 after Pujols was gone.

Pujols, who knows plenty about being pitched around, has been impressed with the way Trout has handled the lack of opportunities.

"The best thing he's doing is taking his walks and not expanding the strike zone," Pujols said. "That's how I do it. If they don't want to pitch to him, he needs to take his walks."

It would be easy for a hitter as talented and as young as Trout, who turned 22 on Wednesday, to get antsy when pitchers won't give him anything to hit. It would be understandable to swing at a few more pitches outside the zone, but Trout said he's not even tempted.

"I don't get frustrated," he said. "If I go 0-for-2 or 1-for-1 with two or three walks, you are getting on base three or four times. You are helping your team. You really can't do much about it."

Trout actually did lose some discipline early in the season, probably when he was trying to put up the offensive numbers to prove his historic rookie season was no fluke. On April 30, Trout was hitting .252. That was around the time he became aware that he had been getting too aggressive. Since then, he has hit .359 entering Friday.

The Angels would certainly love to force pitchers to give Trout some more pitches to hit, but they can't really do anything about it as long as the roster is in its current state, with Pujols out and Josh Hamilton slumping. Even Howie Kendrick is now out with a knee injury.

"You need depth in your lineup," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We definitely need Mike to get his pitches. We can't control what other teams do but I think hopefully that's something that will resolve itself when we get some guys swinging the bats like they can."

For now, though, Scioscia said he's content to let teams pitch around Trout because he doesn't want him to get out of sync swinging at bad pitches. Besides, Trout can still do damage with a walk. Trout has 24 stolen bases this season.

"Mike's talent is he can turn a walk into a double so any time you pitch around him, you are probably putting a guy in scoring position," Scioscia said. "We hope to take advantage of that."
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