Angels’ Trout ‘just wasn’t me’ in injury-plagued season

Alden Gonzalezespn staff writerSep 25, 2023, 09:18 pm ETread 4 minutes

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mike Trout, usually like anyone else in his profession, looked quite emotional while talking about his recent injuries on Monday, days after Los Angeles Angels manager Phil Nevin announced that Trout was suffering from his recent hand injury. Will not come back from. Due to injury he has yet to play again this season.

Trout, on track to become one of the greatest players in baseball history as recently as 2020, has played in less than half of the Angels’ games over the past three years.

This year their number will increase to 82.

“Yeah, it’s disappointing,” Trout said, clearly shaken. “I wanted to go back. It’s hard. It’s been hard.”

The 32-year-old Trout won three American League MVP awards in his first eight full seasons and was runner-up on four other occasions. But in 2021, due to a torn calf muscle, he had to stay out of the field even after mid-May. In 2022, he was sidelined for a little more than a month around midseason due to a nagging back problem. His goal entering 2023 was simply to stay healthy.

“I hired a lot of people to work on my body,” Trout said. “My body was feeling great. A strange thing happened and I broke my arm.”

Trout suffered a fracture of the hamate bone in his lower left arm while completing a swing on July 3 in San Diego. He forced a return seven weeks later, on August 22, while the Angels were still in contention. , but his hand did not respond favorably. He played in one game before returning to the injured list and would not be active again, finishing his season with a .263/.367/.490 slash line and 18 home runs.

“When I came back I was in pain,” Trout said. “My swing wasn’t perfect. I just wasn’t myself. I was taking it day by day, trying to push through the pain and discomfort. It never happened. Now, giving it a few extra days off , it’s going away. I’m starting my swing process. I’m swinging. I’m not gonna come back, but I wanted to. I just wanted to get my head on straight for the offseason, clear my mind Wanted. Just a healthy offseason.”

This offseason will bring more questions than ever for Trout and the Angels. Trout has seven years and approximately $250 million remaining on the mega-extension he signed for the 2019 season, and there are questions throughout the industry whether he and the Angels can indeed part ways.

Trout’s age and recent injury history – not to mention the fact that he has the right to block any trade – will make it extremely difficult to extend his contract. But former teammates have recently wondered whether Trout has reached breaking point and may ask Angels owner Arte Moreno, team president John Carpino and general manager Perry Minasian for a trade this offseason. Trout gave no indication that was the case when addressing the media on Monday, but he didn’t necessarily dismiss the notion either.

He is expected to meet with the front office to talk about the direction of the team in the near future.

“These are conversations we have not just this year, but every year,” Trout said. “Those are my personal conversations with the front office — John and Perry, all the guys out there. So keep it that way. The plan, as it’s always been, is to take a few weeks off in the offseason, clear my head, get in shape. Come in, get ready to play and go from there.”

When Trout was asked if he wanted to see it through with the Angels, he responded similarly, saying: “I go through it every year. I have personal conversations with Arte and John, and I’m doing the same thing.” What I did last, what, 13 years, was just go into the offseason, clear my mind, get ready for the spring and, you know, put on an Angels uniform in the spring.”

The Angels began the final week of the regular season with a 70–86 record, having already endured their eighth consecutive losing season to set a franchise record.

The Angels rushed to get back into contention early in the second half, at which point the front office decided not to trade Shohei Ohtani and instead bolstered an ailing roster by moving prospects away from the relatively thin farm system. The Angels then went 8–19 during a nightmarish August, a month in which Ohtani suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament, prematurely ending his season as a pitcher. Ohtani, whose season as a hitter ended with an oblique injury, will soon enter free agency and is widely expected to sign elsewhere.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Where’s Shohei going to go?’ Can’t tell you. It’s up to him,” Trout said. “You’d have to ask him. Ultimately it’s up to his decision. He hasn’t said anything to me. He stays quiet, just does his thing. As another teammate, I think just giving him his privacy.” Let it be. It’s his decision. He’s going to do what’s right for him. We’ll see how it goes.”

The Angels are expected to make every effort to re-sign Ohtani. But they are burdened by their commitment to Anthony Rendon, who has played only 148 games over the last three years and is owed an additional $114 million over the next three years. Young players like catcher Logan O’Hoppe, shortstop Zack Neto, first baseman Nolan Shanuel and outfielder Mickey Moniak have emerged this season, but the Angels will still have plenty of holes to fill on their roster this offseason if they try. Hope to fight next year.

The most important thing is that the trout are healthy.

No one feels this way more than him.

“I just want to be there,” Trout said. “Injuries suck. All the hard work and stuff and just crazy things happen. I try to stay positive.”

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