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Mike Trout jumps at chance to prove he has plenty of ‘burst’

Angels center fielder Mike Trout catches a ball.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout catches a ball hit by San Francisco’s Mike Yastrzemski on Aug. 19.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

Social media helped Mike Trout emerge from a rut he didn’t even know he was in.

The Angels star was scrolling through Twitter late last week when he saw mention of his outfield performance. The early verdict was that Trout had lost some speed on his jumps. According to MLB’s Statcast technology, he ranked among the worst in baseball in the category.

Trout, who has made significant defensive strides in recent years while seeking his first Gold Glove award, was caught off guard.

“I literally just found out,” Trout said in a videoconference before the Angels’ 11-4 road loss to the Houston Astros on Monday. “… Little stuff like that you really don’t realize it till you see the numbers.”

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Highly touted rookie Jo Adell has struggled to make an impact in the batter’s box and in the field for the Angels since being called up.

The “burst” metric, one of three components that Statcast uses to assess outfield jumps, is the most concerning number. It suggests that Trout is slower to move in the correct direction toward balls than he was in 2019. That has led to a drop-off in the amount of feet he covers on certain outfield plays.

Trout wasn’t the only one to miss the negative defense trend. Manager Joe Maddon dismissed the metrics because Trout’s technique didn’t raise alarm.

“I still haven’t seen him misplay things yet,” Maddon said.

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Trout ruled out potential issues, such as speed (which didn’t suffer in the wake of last year’s season-ending foot surgery) and the lack of crowd noise.

It was his pre-pitch setup that needed tweaking. He began addressing it in Oakland by “being in a ready position when the ball is in the zone.” There was an immediate payoff Saturday, when Trout robbed Athletics batter Matt Olson of a hit. Trout had been shading Olson, who hits left-handed, toward right-center. He raced toward left-center and dived to catch the ball, helping the Angels retain a lead in their eventual 4-3 win.

“I just looked into it and just told myself, ‘How could I get better?’” he said. “And I just really emphasized that these last couple games in Oakland after I read that. It’s definitely helped me out with my jumps and first step.”

Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfractor rookie card broke the previous record of $3.12 million for a 1909 Honus Wagner T-206 card.

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When not on the field, Trout has spent his free time tracking the path of Tropical Storm Laura. The weather system is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and strengthen as it approaches the Texas and Louisiana coasts. The National Hurricane Center warned Monday afternoon that Laura could make landfall as a hurricane by late Wednesday and produce “life-threatening storm surge” for San Luis Pass, Texas, which is about 80 miles south of Houston.

Trout briefed Maddon on the storm’s potential after the league announced Monday that the finale of the Angels’ series with the Astros was moved to Tuesday, as part of a doubleheader, because of the storm.

“Oh my God, he does it so calmly,” Maddon said as he smiled and gestured at the monitor hanging on the wall of his Minute Maid Park office. “He gets in front of the TV and starts pointing things out. And he educated me. It was great.”

The terminology comes naturally to Trout, a meteorology aficionado who has made several appearances on the Weather Channel and is known to geek out about the topic on social media. During spring training 2019, he took his wife, Jessica, on a chase of a rare snow storm in Arizona. The trek from the Angels’ spring facility in Tempe to Payson was about 80 miles.

Trout has already been in contact with the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, who messaged Trout about a potential trip to Houston.

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“You know when Cantore comes to a spot that means he’s right in ground zero,” Trout said.

As much as he loves weather, Trout doesn’t want to be in a plane with the Angels on Wednesday night if they wind up trying to take off during the storm.

“I do not like turbulence,” he said, after admitting he fears flying. “But I already told [Justin Upton] that if we play Wednesday, and there’s a hurricane close, we’re driving six hours west, and then we’re flying out from somewhere. I’m not taking off in a hurricane, I’ll tell you that.”

Takeaways from Angels’ 11-4 loss the Astros

  • With at least 14 innings ahead of them Tuesday, Maddon spared his bullpen and moved catcher Anthony Bemboom to the mound for the eighth inning. Bemboom’s turn on the bump marked only the fifth time since June 1993 that a position player — not including Shohei Ohtani or fellow two-way player Jared Walsh — has pitched for the Angels.
  • The Angels had two breakthroughs on offense. Justin Upton homered in the fourth, alleviating some strain he has felt during a slump that extended to two-for-41. Albert Pujols knocked in the 2,087th run of his career with a fifth-inning single and took ownership of second place on the all-time RBIs list compiled by Elias Sports Bureau, which does not count RBIs before 1920.
  • A five-pitch first inning didn’t foreshadow success for Angels starter Patrick Sandoval or the pitchers who relieved him after 2 ⅔ innings. Sandoval gave up seven hits and five runs. The Astros scored six runs off four of the Angels’ six relievers. The nail in the Angels’ coffin was Carlos Correa’s three-run double, which came on a 3-2 count off Mike Mayers in the sixth and extended Houston’s lead to 8-4.

Torres reported from Los Angeles.


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