Trumbo living up to billing in Arizona
D-backs slugger leads Major Leagues in homers, RBIs after first full week
DENVER -- Mark Trumbo knows his job. He is expected to hit with power and drive in runs. And he does it well.
As inconsistent as the opening games of the 2014 season have been for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Trumbo has delivered what the D-backs envisioned when they acquired him in the three-team offseason deal that saw Arizona send center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox and left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.
"He is a very formidable bat and a smart hitter," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said on Sunday after Arizona knocked off the Colorado Rockies, 5-3, at Coors Field.
It was just D-backs' second win in nine games, matching the inaugural season of 1998 for the worst start in franchise history. And Trumbo delivered a two-run home run, the 100th of his career.
"It's something I'm known for," he said of hitting home runs, "and 100 is a nice round number."
Five of those home runs and 13 of Trumbo's 297 big league RBIs have come in six career games at Coors Field, which should not be surprising.
"My job," he said, "is to hit the ball in the air. A stadium like this plays really well for that."
Trumbo has done his job so far in Arizona. He is leading the Major Leagues with five home runs and 13 RBIs. Trumbo has homered in each of his last four games, equaling a streak he put together with the Halos from May 27-30, 2012.
"I've had hot stretches in the past where the home runs come in bunches," Trumbo said. "I can't tell you when they are coming or why they happen, but they do happen."
And the home run on Sunday happened to come at an opportune time.
It came in a win. It came after the D-backs had taken a 3-0 lead. It sent a message to a Rockies team that had rallied from a four-run deficit for a 9-4 victory on Saturday night that Trumbo and his teammates weren't backing down.
"When you get blown out, it doesn't feel great," said Trumbo. "You enjoy these games more."
And while Trumbo grew up in Villa Park, Calif., just a couple of miles down the road from the Angels' home in Anaheim, what he is really enjoying is being with Arizona. Even the fact he is being asked to become a full-time outfielder hasn't been a distraction.
Primarily a first baseman/DH in his four years with the Halos, Trumbo arrived in Arizona having started 122 games in the outfield with the Angels, but he also had been removed in the late innings in 57 of them.
The D-backs weren't concerned.
They were confident that, given Trumbo's pride and work ethic, he'd become a solid outfielder. More importantly, they wanted to add his power bat to the lineup to help offset the focus that opposing teams put on Paul Goldschmidt.
So far, so good.
"He has a good attitude," said Gibson. "He wants to learn. He has done a decent job for us in the outfield. He is a headsy player."
And Trumbo is realistic.
"I've got a lot to learn, but it's coming along," he said. "I pride myself on my defense."
Trumbo, however, makes his living swinging the bat. He hit 95 home runs in three full seasons with the Angels, driving in 282 runs from 2011-13. Trumbo has hit home runs at home (47 in 235 games) and on the road (53 in 234 games). He has hit them off right-handers (one every 18.7 at-bats) and off left-handers (one every 15.5 at-bats).
That is what caught the attention of the D-backs. And Trumbo understands that.
"I don't care if some people don't feel [driving in runs] is important, but I feel there's something to be said for getting a guy home in a pressure situation and the pitcher is bearing down on you, trying to get you out," he said. "I'll take the RBI."
Not that Trumbo is satisfied with his offensive game. The 471 strikeouts in 469 big league games -- 184 of them last year -- aren't acceptable.
"It's too many," he said. "I know that. I want to be a better all-around hitter. I need to be more patient. There's time to shorten up [the swing] a little with two strikes, but not too much. I know what my job is."
Nobody can question that. The results speak for themselves.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.