Torii Hunter Will Start in Right Field for First Time Since 1999
Torii Hunter, winner of nine straight Gold Gloves as a center fielder, will be playing right field. It is Hunter's first game at the position since Sept. 19, 1999 when Hunter moved to right to replace Midre Cummings for the Twins against the Mariners. It's his first start at the position since Sept. 13 of the same year, and he has just 14 games there overall.
And here's the kicker: The guy who is pushing Hunter out of center field is making his major league debut. Peter Bourjos is getting the call in center Tuesday night as the Angels try to get a bit faster in the outfield.
Bourjos forced his way into the major league mix on the back of a Pacific Coast League-record 52 hits in the month of July. He's also stolen 27 bases and hit 12 triples for the Triple-A club, a marker of the speed that Mike Scioscia is hoping to add by getting Bourjos into the lineup. The way he's doing it will lead to raised eyebrows, but it probably is the optimal way to get the desired result.
Bobby Abreu moves to left field, where he's played just 26 games in the past, which means that Juan Rivera sits and the Angels immediately become faster in the outfield. Bourjos is said to be one of the finest defensive prospects to hit the big leagues in some time, making it easier to move Hunter, whose reputation surpasses his actual defensive game right now, away from a position he's dominated for a decade. If Bourjos hits enough to stick, you've made the switch for the long haul.
If all that's not enough, you also get Rivera's dismal bat out of the lineup at a time when every game really matters to stay alive in the playoff race. All in all, a bold and smart move by Scioscia. Shaking things up is worth a shot because nothing else has been working.