TEMPE, Ariz. — Mike Trout has not set a deadline for negotiations on a long-term contract extension, and the Angels' center fielder said Thursday he would not be opposed to talks carrying into the regular season.
Players in similar situations often prefer to sign before the start of the season, so talks don't become a distraction, or put off negotiations until after the season. Not Trout, 22, who finished second in American League most-valuable-player voting in 2012 and 2013.
"It doesn't matter to me," said Trout, who signed for $1 million this season but is expected to command well over $100 million in an extension. "Nothing bothers me. I go out there and play, man. I don't worry about any of that stuff."
The Angels have been in talks with Trout's agent since November, but despite the optimism expressed by both owner Arte Moreno and General Manager Jerry Dipoto, the sides have not reached an agreement.
Trout doesn't seem the least bit distracted. He had three hits, including a triple and a run-scoring single, stole a base and scored twice in Thursday's 8-6 exhibition victory over the Chicago White Sox. He's hitting .444 (12 for 27) with nine runs batted in and looks very comfortable in the batter's box.
"I love spring training, but I want to start playing in games that count," Trout said. "I want to be in Anaheim playing. I'm anxious for opening day. I'm excited. I'm ready to go now."
Reliever Sean Burnett said he took a "huge step" in his return from elbow surgery, throwing 30 fastballs off a bullpen mound at about 85-90% intensity.
"It felt good — I didn't fatigue at all," the left-hander said. "I was pushing it to see what I have, and my 30th pitch felt as good as the others."
Burnett, limited by elbow problems to 13 games last season, will need two or three more bullpen workouts and to throw batting practice before pitching in a game. He is doubtful for the season opener but could be ready in early April.
Could a little move make a big difference for pitcher Joe Blanton, who went 2-14 with a 6.04 earned-run average and 29 homers given up in 2013 and is a longshot to make the rotation? Manager Mike Scioscia thinks so.
Blanton moved from the first base side of the rubber to the third base side Wednesday and threw five scoreless, one-hit innings against Texas. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in his previous start against Colorado.
"It gave him a slightly different perspective," Scioscia said. "He gets a chance to create angles to left-handers and right-handers, especially with his fastball, which he's able to get cross-corner or down and in to a lefty."
John McDonald appears to have a slight edge over Grant Green and Andrew Romine for the utility infield spot, but not because he's batting .462 (six for 13).
The 39-year-old veteran has made several outstanding plays at second base and shortstop, and he can also play third, where the Angels might need coverage if they decide to pull David Freese in the late innings of close games.
"He's a magician with his hands," Scioscia said of McDonald. "You always knew what he could do with his field sense. Now that you have him in the clubhouse and the dugout and in meetings, this guy has a special understanding of infield play. He's fun to be around."
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