MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The Los Angeles Angels had a need for speed, so they called up center fielder Peter Bourjos earlier this month to inject some electricity into an outfield filled with tired veteran legs.
The fleet-footed 23-year-old flashed those jets on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins, even during his first major league home run trot.
Bourjos hit a two-run homer and added a triple and four RBIs to lead the Angels to a 9-3 victory over the Twins.
The youngster drew laughs in the clubhouse after the game for running around the bases so swiftly during his homer in the second inning.
“He was sprinting, I’m going to have to slow him down,” said Torii Hunter, the Gold Glover who moved over to right field to accomodate the kid. “But he’s a rookie and he’s not trying to show anybody up. That’s the right thing to do for a while. But when he hits a couple more, he’s going to have to act like he did it before.”
The line drive barely cleared the wall in left field and Bourjos said he didn’t know it was a home run until he got to third base.
“I hit second and I was looking for the signal and didn’t see it,” he said sheepishly.
The Twins took a beating in more ways than one.
Kevin Slowey (11-6) lasted just three innings for the Twins, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps, as was left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, who strained his right shoulder while trying to field a grounder in the sixth inning.
“Just one of those days where the game went nowhere,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Slowey has been bothered by elbow tendinitis recently as well, which is why Gardenhire decided to pull him after seven innings of his last start even though he had a no-hitter going at the time. Slowey said he felt a twinge in his triceps against the last hitter he faced and the Twins immediately pulled him.
Both pitchers will have MRI exams on Monday to assess the extent of the damage.
“Frustrating, absolutely,” Slowey said. “There’s nothing more I can do about it than listen to what our doctors have to say about it and go from there.”
The Twins recalled righty Nick Blackburn, who was demoted to Triple-A after going 7-7 with a 6.66 ERA in 19 appearances to start the season. The Twins also recalled right-handed reliever Anthony Slama and now only have one lefty in the bullpen _ middle man Glen Perkins.
“Just more adversity,” Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer said. “Hopefully it doesn’t last very long.”
Erick Aybar added three hits and an RBI for the Angels, who had fallen into third place in the AL West during a recent stretch of poor play, especially on the road, where they were 6-18 in their previous 24 games.
Francisco Rodriguez (1-3) allowed one hit in 2 2-3 innings of relief of Trevor Bell for his first big-league win. Los Angeles fell behind 3-0 after the first on Cuddyer’s two-run single and an RBI single from Delmon Young.
But the Angels rallied in the second, getting four runs and six hits.
Bobby Abreu followed the Bourjos’ homer with a solo shot to right-center to make it 4-3.
Down 5-3, the Twins loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. But Bourjos caught a fly ball from Young in center field and threw out Jason Kubel at home plate to end the inning.
“He’s treading in uncharted waters right now and he needs to get a feel for the game, he needs to get a feel for pitchers in the major leagues, for environments, for strike zones, for everything,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s going to be an adjustment period, but he broke out of it today.”
Bourjos has covered plenty of ground in the outfield since he was called up, but he entered the game hitting just .146 with two RBIs in 14 games.
“You’ve got to hit, you’ve got to produce up here,” said Bourjos, who planned to give his home run ball to his father, Chris, who played 13 games for the San Francisco Giants in 1980. “If you can just run, you’re not getting hits, you’re not getting on base, you’re not going to stay. You’ve got to produce on both sides.”
NOTES: Scioscia said RHP Joel Pineiro (left side) threw on flat ground from 120 feet and also threw some curveballs on Saturday. “We’re all very encouraged with where he is now,” Scioscia said. “If his progression is steady, we’re optimistic.” There is still no timetable for his return. … Abreu’s homer joined him with Alex Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero as the only active players with at least 15 home runs in 13 straight seasons. … Bourjos hit 13 homers in Triple-A this season.