BALTIMORE -- Hitting at the big league level is one thing. Hitting at the big league level when not getting consistent playing time is a whole other challenge. Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos, fighting to get in the lineup ever since Mike Trout's callup in late April, has realized that.
And his recent numbers -- homers in back-to-back games on Sunday and Tuesday and a .316 batting average in June -- suggest he's getting a lot better at it.
"The thought process is a little different," said Bourjos, who was out of the lineup again on Wednesday. "I have to be ready to hit. In the first round of batting practice, instead of getting loose, I've been treating it more like this is my first at-bat of the game. I try to make it more game-like. I think that's helped me a lot."
Bourjos has come to grips with his limited role this year. With Trout, Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter making a very formidable outfield, Bourjos has mostly only been in the lineup when Trumbo moves to designated hitter against left-handed starters.
It's the reality of 2012 for Bourjos, who has received interest from multiple teams but holds a lot of value within the Angels' front office.
"If you go out there and say, 'I need to get four hits to stay in the lineup,' it's not going to be good," Bourjos said. "You're going to put too much pressure on yourself."
Haren focused on his control, not velocity
BALTIMORE -- Last year, Dan Haren could frequently throw his fastball in the 91-92 mph range. This year, it's a lot more like 88-89 mph, with his average fastball velocity dropping a hair each of his last three years -- from 90.5 in 2010, to 89.8 in 2011, to 88.7 so far this season, according to PITCHf/x.
In his last start against the Dodgers -- when he gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings -- Haren threw only six of his 102 pitches at 90 mph, and none faster.
For Haren, though, location is priority No. 1.
"I think the last thing that any pitcher should do is try to add velocity, because location is a lot more important than velocity," he said. "Look at Scott Downs, he throws 88, 90 mph and he's [allowed] one run this year. He makes quality pitches down in the zone, and that's what it's all about at this level."
Haren has hardly been his dominant self this year, posting a 4.24 ERA and seven quality starts in his 15 outings. Location may be the biggest reason, but velocity is what provides very little margin for error.
For that, you can look at mechanics, or the recent lower back ailments he's dealt with, or the fact that Haren has thrown the second-most innings in the Majors since 2005. But while Haren isn't the pitcher who was throwing in the mid-90s in his early years, the 31-year-old right-hander believes he's still perfectly capable of getting back up to the low 90s again.
"I think I could, definitely," Haren said. "There's been times where I've kind of held myself back, or just some health issues earlier in the year. We're almost halfway through the year. I think I still have a lot of good days to go."
Iannetta continues to deal with forearm issue
BALTIMORE -- The return of Chris Iannetta continues to be delayed.
The Angels' catcher has essentially recovered from the right wrist surgery he underwent on May 11, but continues to fight the forearm strain he suffered when trying to come back too fast about three weeks ago. Last week, Iannetta was shut down from his throwing program for a second time and received his second MRI -- this one with contrast dye -- manager Mike Scioscia revealed on Wednesday.
"He's fine," Scioscia said. "You're just ruling some things out."
Iannetta is expected to restart his throwing program by the end of this week, and he hopes to complete all the steps -- throwing 200 feet, then throwing to bases -- so he can finally go out on a rehab assignment. The initial six-to-eight-week timeline from wrist surgery would've had him back by July 6, but it's pretty clear he won't be returning until after the All-Star break.
In the meantime, the Angels will continue to roll with Bobby Wilson and John Hester behind the plate.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.