As happy as the Angels are to keep Mike Trout’s bat in the lineup while he recovers from a sprained right index finger, they’ll be even happier when the star center fielder returns to his position. Trout simply is not wired for the monotony of the designated hitter role.
“I’m gonna tell him today to go out and play catch with the left fielder [between innings] just so he feels like he’s playing some defense,” manager Mike Scioscia said before Sunday’s game. “Just roll it back left-handed if you can’t throw, whatever, because he goes crazy in the dugout.”
Trout, who started his fifth straight game at DH, will test the finger by throwing in the next day or two. “They said to give it a week to see how it feels,” he said. “We’re just trying to calm it down.”
Trout made only 39 of his 914 starts at DH before this season. It’s not something he is used to.
“It’s weird being the DH,” Trout said. “I want to be out there. At least I’m not on the disabled list. That’s the only positive thing. That’s what I keep telling myself. Just staying into the game is tough. There’s a lot of down time. I’ve been hitting in the cage, running, staying loose, just making sure I don’t sit down for too long.”
It’s probably no coincidence Trout has struggled as a DH. He was hitting .439 with a 1.307 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, five homers and 10 RBIs in June before being relegated to DH, where he is three for 15 (.200) with two RBIs, seven strikeouts and five walks in five games.
“DHing is not easy, especially when you’re used to the every-day separation of going out there and focusing on defense,” Scioscia said. “The best thing to get a bad at-bat out of your head is to play defense. Sometimes you don’t have that. You just keep reliving it. You go in the video room and watch it, you come out here, and you’re waiting another 40 minutes for your next at-bat.”
The Angels lost a potential run in the fifth inning when Kole Calhoun made the first out at third base. Trailing, 3-1, Andrelton Simmons and Calhoun opened with singles, and Martin Maldonado hit an RBI single to center.
Calhoun was thrown out trying to advance to third. It was a close call, with the head-first sliding Calhoun appearing to hit the bag a split-second before the tag, but the out was upheld by replay. Chris Young struck out and Ian Kinsler hit a two-out, RBI single to tie the score 3-3.
“Even on replay, I think they missed the call,” Scioscia said.