Trout intends to stay in center, regain top form with Angels

March 14, 2022 GMT
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout throws during the teams' spring training baseball workouts, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout throws during the teams' spring training baseball workouts, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout throws during the teams' spring training baseball workouts, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout throws during the teams' spring training baseball workouts, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
1 of 5
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout throws during the teams' spring training baseball workouts, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Trout found out the Los Angeles Angels were thinking about moving him out of center field the same way many of his fans did.

He read about it on Twitter.

“It was definitely surprising, for sure,” Trout said Monday.

The three-time AL MVP isn’t really the type to get worked up about a detail that could have been perceived as disrespect by a more sensitive superstar, however.

After learning about Joe Maddon’s thoughts on Sunday and then discussing it with the Angels manager and general manager Perry Minasian on Monday morning, Trout said he isn’t going to move away from the center of the action just yet — and Maddon agreed.

“He feels very strong,” Maddon said. “He feels like he’s in great shape. Everything is in order, so he’s going to play center field. That’s that.”

Trout is staying in center for now, but he’ll still do whatever Maddon thinks is best for the Halos as they attempt to end their 12-year playoff victory drought. Maddon said he only entertained the possibility of moving Trout to a corner outfield spot to keep him healthier, but Trout said he is back in top form.

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“I’ve got nine more years left on the contract, so I could see down the road possibly moving to a corner,” Trout said. “A lot of good things (about it), they tell me. Obviously, corner outfield is less on your body. Just trying to keep me out there for 162 games. Just coming in, I want to play center field, obviously. We had a great conversation about it, and we’ll go from there.”

Trout made it clear he’s not ready to enter the next phase of his career, even after a strained right calf in mid-May sidelined him for the rest of 2021 season. With his leg strong and his mind refreshed after nearly a year out of action, Trout is determined to show he’s still a star who can carry his team alongside fellow MVP Shohei Ohtani.

Unsurprisingly for a man with “CF” as the first two letters in his Twitter bio, Trout also wants to do it from center field. He believes the Angels are all “on the same page” about his near-term future.

“I just feel comfortable out there, natural,” Trout said of center field. “I basically said, ‘Tell me what I need to work on. I’ll get better at it.’”

Trout has kept that humble attitude throughout his impressive career, but his resolve was tested last season when his calf injury reduced him to a spectator for all but 36 games.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a while. No issues with the calf. Don’t feel it at all. Great offseason. No setbacks.”

Trout said he still doesn’t know exactly why it took him so long to return from his calf injury. He didn’t feel normal until mid-October, but he has been through three months of fairly typical offseason workouts since then.

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“My body wasn’t healing right,” Trout said. “I couldn’t really point at one thing. We threw everything at it. When I was shut down, I basically didn’t do anything. I just let it heal on its own for a few weeks. I got back into my training right away. The first two weeks, I felt a little tightness in there. It went away, and I haven’t thought about it since.”

Trout had plenty to occupy his mind: He was actively monitoring the players’ discussions around the new labor agreement. He talked to Tony Clark, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole about the negotiations as they were happening, and he even tweeted a message of support for the union on March 2.

Trout hasn’t previously been involved much in union affairs, but the 30-year-old veteran felt it was time to participate.

“It just came to a point where I thought it was time to say something,” Trout said. “We were ready to play, and no one was moving, and then it just seemed like it all came together. People were getting antsy for sure.”

Trout’s return from injury puts him in an unusual position in his stellar career. He was a top-five finisher in the MVP balloting in each of his first nine full seasons in the majors before last year, when the Angels had to stumble ahead without the centerpiece of their lineup.

Los Angeles’ playoff drought reached seven seasons, and the organization’s moves in the offseason didn’t overhaul the franchise. The Angels acquired veteran pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen and Aaron Loup while re-signing closer Raisel Iglesias, but the biggest addition to their batting order will be Trout.

“Everything in the past, you look at it, (but) it’s a new year,” Trout said. “Obviously all the stats and everything were great in the past, but you’ve got something to prove this year. I come in every year to do that. I try to be the best player on the field at all times. That’s my mentality, and the biggest thing is staying healthy.”

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