Bourjos, dad to celebrate Father's Day together
Padres scout, Chris, has weekend off to spend in Anaheim
Finally, for the first time in six years, the stars will align just right for Chris Bourjos, the long-time Major League scout who will actually be able to spend Father's Day with his son on Sunday.
Chris, currently employed by the Padres as a National League West evaluator, has the weekend off and can be in Anaheim, where Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos will be taking part in a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Chris has spent the last three decades as a scout, so his time with Peter and his daughter has always been precious, which makes him appreciate weekends like these.
Heck, he gets emotional just talking about it.
"My wife says, 'You need your kids more than they need you,' and she's right," Chris said, his voice trailing. "I just like being with them. I miss them. Sometimes I think they need me, but I need them."
Over the last few weeks, though, Chris and Peter have needed each other.
This, in many ways, could be the toughest time of Peter's young baseball career. He's 25, coming off a solid 2011 season and still has plenty of upside, but due to some unfavorable circumstances -- the two biggest being Mike Trout's callup and his own early-season slump -- Bourjos is merely a bench player these days.
Chris and Peter talk on the phone multiple times a day. Sometimes, Chris consoles Peter about the scenario he's dealing with.
A lot of times, it's the other way around.
"Sometimes I worry about him more than I worry about myself, because I know I can handle it," Peter said of his father. "Sometimes, he's on the road by himself. He doesn't have my mom or my sister to talk to him, where as I have a group of guys I can go to to get stuff off my chest. He takes it worse than me. He's a father."
Make no mistake, Peter isn't happy about riding the pine.
But you could hardly tell by talking to him. He's still the same upbeat, engaging, personable guy, who smiles a lot and constantly talks about how excited he is to see the team finally playing well, even if he's had very little to do with it.
"I think I've handled it the right way," Peter added. "Not that I've accepted being a bench player, but I've accepted my role on this team at this point. Hopefully next year things change, but right now, this is where I'm at, and I've accepted that. And at this point, [Chris] has, too, and he understands."
Peter hit .271 with a .327 on-base percentage, 12 homers, 22 steals, 11 triples and Gold Glove-caliber defense in his first full season last year. But he batted .167 in the first month of 2012 and, through Monday, had started only 15 of 42 games since Trout's April 28 callup, with Trout, Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter making up a very formidable present-day outfield.
"I keep thinking of the year he had last year, and I don't know, it's hard to say," Chris said. "I go back and forth every day. We've been pretty upset since the beginning of the season. But we've both settled in, maybe the last few weeks of the season, and said, 'Hey, you have to accept it.' I mean, they're playing very well. So it's tough to argue."
Chris was an outfielder who spent seven years in pro baseball, played 13 games in the Majors -- with the Giants in 1980 -- and retired after the '83 season. He then scouted for 18 years for the Blue Jays, another eight with the Brewers and two with the Orioles before taking his current job with the Padres.
Growing up, Peter always knew his father as a scout -- minus that VHS he'd constantly play of his only big league home run -- and would tag along with him on road trips whenever school was out.
"The thing we've always had in common is baseball," Peter said. "We both love the game, and that brought us close together."
There have been several times -- including Peter's own Bobblehead Night -- when Chris has found a break in his schedule to make it out to an Angels game, but Peter has hardly emerged from the dugout.
Chris has come to terms with that reality. He's had good conversations with Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, who he considers a friend, and has felt comfortable with what he's heard from several of his scout friends. They tell him about all the teams that would be interested in acquiring his son before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. They tell him Peter's going to be just fine.
"And if I sit back and look at it as a scout and not a dad, and pretend Pete's not my son, I'd say that, too," Chris said. "He is going to be fine, with the Angels or someone else. And hopefully with the Angels."
All things being equal, Peter's preference, and his father's, is to remain in Anaheim and ride this rough stretch out.
"I want to be an Angel for life," Peter said. "But I also want to play, and [Chris] sees that, too. So he just keeps saying, 'Relax, keep going about it the right way and something's going to give, something's going to work out.'"
And deep down, Chris believes that himself, regardless of how tough it is to see his son ride the bench.
On Monday, Chris had the good fortune of drawing the Dodgers as an assignment for the Freeway Series opener in Los Angeles. He had a pretty good idea Peter wasn't going to be in the Angels' starting lineup, but it mattered little. Because as he looked toward the outfield and saw Peter warming up with Trumbo and Hank Conger, he got emotional again.
"Just seeing him here, I'm happy," Chris said, his voice trailing once more. "That's all I need."
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.