Angels' Mike Trout doesn't mind distractions

Angels' Mike Trout doesn't mind distractions
Angels outfielder Mike Trout, left, speaks with designated hitter Raul Ibanez during a spring training practice session Feb. 26. Trout is doing his best to stay focused on the upcoming season. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

TEMPE, Ariz. — There was a Nike photo shoot, the filming of a commercial for Major League Baseball, appearances on ESPN, MTV, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports West, and interviews with newspapers, websites and radio stations. Still to come is a Sports Illustrated cover photo shoot.

Mike Trout has been busy this spring, the demands of stardom pulling the Angels center fielder in many directions, and negotiations with the team for a possible nine-figure contract extension provide yet another potential distraction.

But Trout, with a nod to the team's media relations department, is handling the acclaim well. In three exhibition games, he's hitting .500 (four for eight) with a home run and five runs batted in.

"My main goal here is to get ready for the season," Trout, 22, said. "There are a lot of things you're involved with — interviews, commercials — but they're doing a good job of spreading it out so it's not all in one day or overwhelming."


Eric Kay, the team's communications manager, said he has asked Trout to fulfill multiple requests on only two days this spring. As busy as Trout is, he has found time for several rounds of golf.

"We want to get as much done here to lessen the burden during the season," Kay said. "Mike has always been accommodating. He understands he's carrying the Angels flag, and he has accepted that well."

Trout, the American League most-valuable-player runner-up in 2012 and 2013, doesn't consider his growing fame a burden.

"If people don't want to talk to you, you're not doing something right," Trout said. "People think the commercials are a lot of work, but if you try to have fun with them and try to trick your mind a little bit, they're OK."

Trout is taking a similar approach on the field, where he refuses to alter his aggressive style even though a spring-training injury could affect contract negotiations.

"Once I get on the field, I don't worry about pressure, what people are saying or thinking," Trout said. "I go out there and have fun and play my game."

Crowded pen

Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels could open the season with eight relievers, an indication he is not expecting a young rotation to pitch deep into games.

Jered Weaver, who gave up one earned run and four hits in four innings of Wednesday's 3-2 Cactus League loss to San Francisco in Scottsdale, Ariz., is an established ace, and C.J. Wilson is a solid No. 2.

But none of the other three projected starters — Garrett Richards, 25, Hector Santiago, 26, and Tyler Skaggs, 22 — has thrown more than 158 innings in any of the last three seasons.

"It's tough to project guys who are young and say they will pitch into the seventh inning almost every night," Scioscia said. "That's unrealistic. They have great stuff and power arms, and at some point they'll give us some length. But they may have to grind it out to get to a certain point of the game, and you want to still be able to hold leads in those games."

Carrying an extra reliever would limit the Angels to a three-man bench. It would also allow the Angels to retain veteran Joe Blanton, who is not expected to win a rotation spot but could provide depth in case of injury.

Blanton, who went 2-14 with a 6.04 earned-run average last season, is guaranteed $8.5 million. If he doesn't make the team and is not traded, he probably will be released, leaving the Angels with Matt Shoemaker and Wade LeBlanc as their best minor league rotation options.

Utility belt

Grant Green, who would enhance his chances of winning a utility spot if he can play shortstop, made two good plays in his first start there Wednesday, moving to his left for a fifth-inning grounder, charging a sixth-inning grounder, and throwing to first for outs.

Green, who played shortstop at USC and second base for the Angels after last July's trade from Oakland, has also been working out at third. He has changed some footwork in order to utilize his legs more in throws.

"He's played shortstop his whole life," Scioscia said. "What he has to show us is the ability to play it at the major league level."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna