When Mike Trout crashed into the wall in front of the left-field bullpen to make a game-saving catch of Mike Zunino's drive with two on to end the seventh inning Wednesday night, he felt like a hockey player getting checked hard into the glass.
And he loved it.
Had Trout made the same catch in April, he would have run full speed into a very unforgiving, thick chain-link fence and risked a serious injury. At the very least, he would have emerged with cuts and scrapes on his face and forearm.
But in May, the Angels, after consulting the Ducks, contacted a company that manufactures the plexiglass used in NHL arenas and had it installed in front of the chain-link fence portions of the left-field wall, leaving a gap between the old and new fence.
"It's a big help to know that if you hit it, you're not going to kill yourself," Trout said of the new wall. "It gives. That's the first time I've actually hit it in a game full speed, and it's definitely softer. The old one had no give at all. If you hit it full speed, you'd probably jam your shoulder or get cut up."