The Angels have dropped five straight games and currently sit in last place in the American League West with a 6-14 record, so they are hoping the newly-promoted Mike Trout can provide a much-needed spark for their lineup.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, Trout will bat leadoff and play left field this afternoon against the Indians. Peter Bourjos will make the start in center field while Vernon Wells is out of the lineup. The Angels didn’t call up Trout to sit on the bench, so his playing time figures to come at the expense of either Wells or Bourjos on most days. Mark Trumbo will make the start at third base this afternoon.
The comparisons to Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper are only natural and hopefully they’ll continue for the next 15-20 years, but Trout is probably the better bet to succeed in 2012. The 20-year-old already had 135 plate appearances in the majors last year and while Harper was merely holding his own against Triple-A pitching prior to his promotion, Trout was hitting .403/.467/.623 with ten extra-base hits (one homer), 13 RBI, six stolen bases and a 1.091 OPS with Salt Lake.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.