Kole Calhoun and Peter Bourjos worked out together as Angels teammates in a Phoenix-area gym Friday morning. When the outfielders resume their off-season workouts Monday, it will not be as teammates.
Bourjos was traded to St. Louis for third baseman David Freese on Friday in a four-player deal that was made possible, in part, by the emergence of Calhoun, who was called up from triple A in late July and hit .282 in 58 games with a .347 on-base percentage, .462 slugging percentage, eight homers and 32 runs batted in.
“I worked out with Pete today before the trade, we were hanging out, I drove away and then saw the news,” Calhoun said. “It’s kind of crazy. There were so many rumors going around. It’s the business of the game.
“Pete and I have always had a great relationship. He’s an unbelievably nice guy and an extremely talented player. It won’t be awkward when we’re back in the gym on Monday. I didn’t make the trade.”
Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said the deal will allow Mike Trout to return to center field on a full-time basis, Calhoun to play right field and Josh Hamilton to move from right field to left field, his natural position. The Angels also still have outfielders J.B. Shuck and Collin Cowgill in reserve.
“He’s a good baseball player,” Dipoto said of Calhoun, 26. “He does a lot of things well. He defends, he throws accurately, he’s a good baserunner, he has patience, he gets on base, he has power. Last year he was able to show that those skills translate to the major league level.
“For him to improve, he has to get the opportunity to play, and we see a good opportunity for him on this field. With the combination of Kole, Trout, Hamilton, in addition to Shuck and Cowgill, we feel outfield depth is an area of strength. Sometimes you deal from an area of strength to fill an area of weakness.”
How did Calhoun feel about Dipoto's essentially naming him as the team’s starting right fielder for 2014?
“That’s pretty cool, but you still have to go out and earn the job,” Calhoun said. “Spring training is where it’s all going to come down. I have to earn that spot, they don’t just give away spots in the big leagues.”
Calhoun, whose power numbers over two months project to 22 homers and 89 RBIs over a 162-game season, played a key role in the Angels’ late-August surge, when they went on a 23-9 run before suffering a season-ending four-game sweep in Texas.
Another sluggish start doomed the Angels, who have gone four years without making the playoffs.
“We want next season to start like last season ended,” Calhoun said. “We got hot for a while, we were playing good baseball, playing the way we were supposed to play, and it was fun to come to the yard. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”
Bourjos, limited to 55 games because of a left hamstring strain and a broken bone in his right wrist, wasn’t much of a factor in 2013. He has been the subject of trade rumors for the last five years and was not surprised by Friday’s deal.
“I thought maybe this was the best chance that I’d get traded because the last couple of years my name had been out there so much and it hadn’t happened,” Bourjos said. “With Kole coming up and J.B. Shuck, they had a lot of young outfielders playing extremely well. I figured there was a pretty good chance that I was going to be traded this winter.”
Bourjos underwent a CT scan on his surgically repaired right wrist Thursday and, though he has not begun swinging a bat, he appears on track to be 100% by spring training. He is expected to challenge Jon Jay for the center-field job in St. Louis.
“From where I was at the end of the season to where I am now, it’s night and day,” Bourjos said. “I was in a lot of pain swinging a bat. Right now, I feel great with just normal stuff around the house. In August and September, it was really bothering me.”
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