If there was a way for Mike Trout to bottle up his swing, store it in a cupboard and break it out for the April 6 season opener, he would. But there are 17 more exhibition games, so the Angels center fielder will have no choice but to continue hacking.
"I'm not going to go up there and not try to get hits," Trout said after crushing two homers and driving in six runs in an 11-0 Cactus League victory over the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields on Tuesday.
"I'm going to keep my same approach, go up, and whatever happens, happens. I can only take what I do in practice and try to bring it into the game. It's been working for me."
Trout, the 2014 American League most valuable player, entered camp with a more aggressive mind-set in hopes of cutting down on his AL-leading 184 strikeouts last season. Normally one of baseball's most patient hitters, he vowed to be "locked and loaded on the first pitch."
So far, so good. Trout is batting .545 (12 for 22) with three homers and a team-leading 10 runs batted in. Though Tuesday's homers, a two-run shot to left in the fifth and a three-run shot to left in the sixth, both came on full-count pitches, he swung at the first pitch in each at-bat.
"Being aggressive on that first pitch is getting me ready to hit better than just taking," Trout said. "I'm putting some good swings on that first pitch and being aggressive. That's what I want to be."
Manager Mike Scioscia said he has noticed Trout "being aggressive early." He's not sure how that translates into better contact later in the at-bat, "but if he feels that aggressiveness helps him track pitches and get ready, maybe there's something to it."
Flu-like symptoms forced C.J. Wilson to be scratched for a second straight start, which could prevent the left-hander from pitching in the season-opening series in Seattle.
Wilson, slotted as the No. 2 starter, threw three innings and 41 pitches in his first game March 7. But he was scratched last week because of a minor left-knee injury, which he suffered in a fielding drill, and he was unable to pitch Tuesday.
Scioscia said Wilson could pitch in the first week of the season if he can complete a game-like workout in the next few days. If not, an off-day after the Seattle series would allow the Angels to push Wilson's first start to April 15 in Texas, the ninth game of the season and first in which they would need a fifth starter.
"There's a little wiggle room in the schedule, and if he needs to be folded into the back of the rotation, he can be," Scioscia said. "Sometimes it's a 24-hour thing. The concern today is that he'd go out and pitch and be sick and put himself at risk because he's dehydrated."
In a rut
It has been a rough spring for Josh Rutledge, whose bid for the second-base job has been hampered by his .226 (seven for 31) average and eight strikeouts in 12 games. Scioscia believes Rutledge, who hit .259 in three seasons for Colorado before being traded to the Angels in December, is clearly pressing.
"I think he's gripping the bat a little bit tight, putting a lot of pressure on every pitch, every swing," Scioscia said. "His timing is more complicated. He does have a high-leverage swing, a little longer of a swing.
"When he gets it going, he can drive the ball gap to gap with some pop, but obviously, his first 20 at-bats or so, he's been searching for some things."