A lot of people seem to have an opinion about whether Mark Trumbo can make the transition from first base to third.
At least one of those people knows what he's talking about. Angels bench coach Rob Picciolo has been working with Trumbo for nearly a month, hitting hard grounders at him with a fungo bat and watching Trumbo's footwork and throws.
Picciolo, a utility infielder for nine years in the major leagues, also has the perspective of having worked with Trumbo six years ago, when the first attempt to make him a third baseman failed. Picciolo said Trumbo is more agile than he was in those days.
"From watching him over the last three weeks, I’m confident he can do it. To what degree, I’m not sure," Picciolo said. "He’s caught everything we’ve hit him, his feet have moved well, his arm’s a plus. I’m cautiously optimistic about it right now."
The Angels are hoping Trumbo can field adequately enough at third to get his powerful bat in the lineup alongside those of Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales. Together, the three natural first basemen could provide the Angels with 100 home runs or more. That combination could give the Angels enough depth to match up with powerful offenses in Texas, New York, Boston and Detroit.
To ease the burden on Trumbo, the Angels have decided that manager Mike Scioscia and first-base coach Alfredo Griffin will tell him where to position himself before pitches. The next hurdle is for Trumbo, who missed the end of the 2011 season with a stress fracture in his right foot, to be medically cleared so he can test his lateral movement. He is flying to Los Angeles for a CT Scan on his right foot Tuesday.
Arm strength isn't an issue. Trumbo had a 95-mph fastball in high school. Accuracy on throws to second and first remains a question mark.
"We're starting off with baby steps," Picciolo said. "If he can catch routine groundballs and throw to the base, we’ll be fine."