The six-plus weeks Mike Trout could not play baseball because of a torn ligament in his thumb sped by quickly, he said Friday, hours before his return to the lineup at Angel Stadium.
While rehabilitating the injury, Trout passed the hours by texting the club's trainers during games to give his teammates a hard time. When Kole Calhoun sneaked a rare opposite-field home run over the left-field fence in a June 6 game in Detroit, Trout sent a mid-game message to Calhoun through head athletic trainer Adam Nevala.
"Hey Adam," Trout texted Nevala, "the wind must be blowing out to left."
Trout said he did "little stuff" like that throughout his disabled-list stint.
"I'm always trying to be part of the team," he said Friday.
Trout began to take batting practice near June's end. He said his early concerns centered on the completion of his swing, the torque required by that aspect of mechanics, and turning his thumb in time to contact inside pitches.
He started a rehab assignment July 5. His first few at-bats with Class-A Inland Empire "cleared my mind a lot," he said.
Baseball analysts speculated that the Angels would no longer be in the American League wild card race by the time Trout returned from the first serious injury of his career.
But they still are, so Trout has 14 games to convince the club's management to add to the assembled roster in pursuit of improbable playoff position. He said he planned not to think about the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline as it approached.
"As a team, we players can't control what happens in the front office," Trout said. "Obviously we're right there in the wild card, and we're just gonna take it one game a time. We can't look ahead. You start looking ahead as a team, you start getting in trouble, not seeing what's in front of you."
The Angels recalled left-hander Jose Alvarez, demoted right-hander Mike Morin, and officially outrighted outfielder Eric Young Jr. to triple-A Salt Lake to create space for Trout. Young lost to Ben Revere in the race to remain on the roster as the Angels' fourth outfielder. … Left-hander Andrew Heaney will next start Thursday in the Arizona League after throwing 1 2/3 innings in his 2017 debut Thursday. He is returning from Tommy John surgery. … Left-hander Tyler Skaggs, out since April 28 because of a strained oblique, is slated to start Monday in the Arizona League. … Right-hander Huston Street (groin strain) is not yet throwing.