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Cards not shying away from Bourjos' aggressive play

Cards not shying away from Bourjos' aggressive play

JUPITER, Fla. -- Ask Peter Bourjos about his aggressive play and you might be surprised to learn that the first facet of the game he brings up isn't his defense. Nor is it his baserunning. Rather, Bourjos chooses to talk hitting.

Indeed, aggressiveness can be used to define several aspects of the new speedy center fielder's game. His aggressive approach at the plate accounts for why Bourjos has averaged a walk only once in every 18 plate appearances and has a career on-base percentage of .306. He does not apologize for the philosophy because he has found it is the one that works best for him as a hitter.

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Where Bourjos' aggressiveness could be most magnified, though, is in the field. At last month's Winter Warm-Up, general manager John Mozeliak suggested that Bourjos likely needs to harness some of that aggressiveness in order to decrease injury risk.

"You want your players to be aggressive and you want them to do things that become highlight reels for ESPN," Mozeliak said. "But having said that, you still want him to go every day."

Manager Mike Matheny said on Saturday, however, that he will send no such direct message, unless, of course, aggressiveness were to morph into recklessness.

"I'm not sure I ever want to ask somebody not to play their hardest," Matheny explained. "I think when you start asking a guy not to be as aggressive as he can or to try and take away from what he knows is right or what he believes is right, you may be setting him up even more for injury. ... I think a controlled aggressiveness in the field, too, is part of what makes him as good as he is. I'm not going to make a strong statement to him on that regard. ... He's been playing the game hard, and that's not something we want to take from him."

Nor does Bourjos intend to change his style of play.

"I want to take away as many hits as I can, cut them off, keep them to singles," Bourjos said. "Whether it's running into the wall or making a diving play, I want to do that. I really have fun out there playing center."

Bourjos comes to camp competing for center field playing time with incumbent Jon Jay. He also arrives healthy. The rehab work that followed September wrist surgery wrapped up this winter, and Bourjos has been swinging a bat uninhibited since the end of December.

Usually not an early arrival at Spring Training, Bourjos said he was deliberate in relocating to Florida a few days before his required report date so that he could acclimate himself with the area and his new teammates. That process has been seamless.

"There is always an anxiety coming into a new place because you don't know anybody," Bourjos said. "But right when I walked in, guys came up and introduced themselves. You could see they generally want each other to do well, and that's pretty cool to see. ... I just want to win, and hopefully we're holding up that trophy at the end of the season."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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