NEW YORK — For as many headlines as Mike Trout generates on the field, the Angels center fielder hasn't been much of an off-the-field attention-grabber. The humble 22-year-old, in his second big league season, has not inserted himself into controversy the way more outspoken and opinionated players do.
But that changed Monday when Trout, at the Empire State Building with his former New Jersey high school team to dedicate a field that will be named in his honor, told a New York radio station that first-time offenders of baseball's performance-enhancing drug program should be banned for life.
"To me, personally, I think you should be out of the game if you get caught," Trout told WFAN. "It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural."
The Angels begin a four-game series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. Starting at third base and batting cleanup for the Yankees will be Alex Rodriguez, who will be playing his sixth game while appealing a 211-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.
Trout, the 2012 American League rookie of the year and most-valuable-player runner-up, told WFAN he is frustrated by players who use PEDs. The fact that one of the game's brightest young stars spoke out against drug offenders can only fortify baseball's effort to rid the game of cheaters.
"Some people just are trying to find that extra edge," Trout told the radio station. "It's tough as a guy that goes out there and plays hard every day, puts in 110% effort. To wake up, see there's a list of guys. … It's good that MLB caught them, and they're moving in the right direction with suspensions and stuff."
But when asked Monday afternoon in the team's Yankee Stadium clubhouse to elaborate on his comments, Trout, who is hitting .330 with 20 home runs and 73 runs batted in, deferred most questions to pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels' union representative.
"I don't want to talk about it anymore," Trout said.
Trout did answer one question about the importance of young players like himself, Washington's Bryce Harper, Baltimore's Manny Machado and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig taking a strong stance against PEDs.
"Oh yeah," he said. "We get tested every week. Guys like me and Harper, Machado, Puig, guys who go out and play hard … it's good for the game."