Angels center fielder Mike Trout said Tuesday he could return from a torn left thumb ligament before the July 11 All-Star game, ahead of the standard timeline for his injury.
“It’d be pretty cool to hopefully be back by then, if everything goes on schedule,” he said. “I obviously don’t determine that, but I want to be out there as quick as I can. Hopefully, we’ll see.”
Asked to clarify whether he believed returning before the annual game was on the table, Trout said yes.
“Before the All-Star break, right at the All-Star break, depending on how it goes,” he said. “I don’t want to push it. I want to make sure it’s right. I don’t want it to be lingering the rest of the season.”
Trout suffered the ligament tear sliding headfirst into second base May 28 at Marlins Park, where this year’s All-Star game will be played. He had surgery May 31 and the Angels said he was expected to be out from six to eight weeks.
July 11 is one day short of six weeks since the surgery, but such a return would have precedent. Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Clippers guard Chris Paul each returned from the same surgery in less than six weeks.
Trout remains one of the American League’s top All-Star vote-getters. He is more than 800,000 votes ahead of the fourth-place outfielder, Michael Brantley.
Ten days ago, Trout was less optimistic about the possibility of playing.
“I’d love to,” he said then. “But it’d be pretty quick to get back in that time. It’ll be a goal, for sure.”
On Tuesday, Trout received the OK to begin grip exercises to strengthen the thumb. It remains sore, but not terribly so. He said he has been doing “a lot of crazy, little, finger activities.”
“It’s boring, I guess,” he said and laughed. “It’s just getting that range of motion back.”
He has been lifting weights with his lower body and core as normal.
“You want to make sure that when you come back and start to swing,” Trout said, “you don’t pull an oblique or anything.”
Trout said he had been hearing “good things” from team doctors.
“I’m happy with where it’s going,” he said. “My mind’s in the right place.”
Before Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees, the Angels had won seven times in 14 tries since Trout’s injury. He said he was pleased to see the club’s performance in his absence.
“People get the opportunity, and they go out here and live it up,” Trout said. “That’s cool.”
On the second day of the MLB draft, the Angels selected four college right-handers, two high school right-handers and two high school outfielders. … Right-hander Cam Bedrosian was scheduled to throw an inning for Class-A Inland Empire on Tuesday night, in a resumption of his delayed rehab assignment for a groin strain. … In a reliever swap, the Angels recalled right-hander Mike Morin from triple-A Salt Lake and demoted right-hander Brooks Pounders.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura