Half a Trout is still a pretty large fish
They’ve had shoulders, elbows and ankles, an adductor and an oblique, a forearm, a knee, a wrist, a hamstring and a lumbar.
They’ve had strains, sprains and tears, a subluxation and an impingement and an absurdly swelled amount of inflammation.
The one thing the 2018 Angels haven’t had, medically speaking at least, is a hurt Mike Trout.
Only now, they have a hurting Mike Trout, the best player in baseball limited to designated hitting for the second consecutive game Thursday in an 8-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium.
“It’s weird,” Trout said, looking down at his right index finger. “Got a little sprain in there.”
The injury isn’t considered serious and doesn’t limit Trout on offense. Quite clearly.
He walked in the first inning against the Blue Jays and scored the game’s initial run, meaning, at that point, he had reached base in 16 of his previous 17 plate appearances.
Still, for a team that has a dozen names on the disabled list, has had eight of its top nine starting pitchers miss time and has employed a baseball-high 46 players, any irregularities concerning Trout are, in fact, quite concerning.
He’s the only player on this club to have appeared in all 75 games, the only Angel who, until this week, hadn’t experienced some form of debilitating ailment.
He’s also Mike Trout and all that means every year. Entering Thursday, that meant leading the majors in home runs (23), walks (64), runs (60), on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.158) and WAR (6.6).
Appearing in career game No. 1,000, Trout is the only player to surpass 200 homers and 175 stolen bases before his age-27 season. He hit more home runs (224) in his first 1,000 games than Barry Bonds (172).
“He comes out here every day wanting to play the best he can,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He has great perspective on what his talent is and what a gift he has.”
Trout said he first felt soreness in his finger during the Angels’ weekend series in Oakland. He iced it and didn’t think much more about it. On Monday, he started in center field and played all nine innings against Arizona as the condition didn’t improve.
“When I throw, it’s pretty painful,” Trout said. “I just played through it. Just grinding right now, you know. Trying to get it right.”
The Angels will limit Trout to hitting until he’s ready to throw with little or no discomfort.
Having only half of his skills, of course, is still plenty, the Angels trying to remain relevant in the American League West and the wild-card race.
Trout walked and scored again in the fifth inning, ahead of Luis Valbuena, who was in a five-for-43 slide before hitting a two-run homer.
Valbuena homered in the seventh too, giving him two two-home run games this season.
Trout, who was intentionally walked in the sixth, has reached base 32 times in his past 42 plate appearances.
Kole Calhoun also had a two-run homer, his second in as many games after hitting just one in his first 50 games.
“It’s definitely nice to be back, be back with the guys and helping the team win,” said Calhoun, who, until Monday, was another of the disabled Angels. “Just want to fold right back in the mix and keep competing.”
The offense made a winner of reliever Noe Ramirez, who retired all eight Blue Jays he faced after replacing starter John Lamb in the fourth inning.
It also made Trout’s 1,000th career game a happy occasion despite his ornery index finger.
“Let’s wait … and figure it out,” Scioscia said when asked about Trout’s place in history. “This guy’s just getting started on his career.”
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