Trout hopes An­gels can start fast

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By GREG BEACHAM

ANA­HEIM — With his first child due to ar­rive shortly, Mike Trout thought hard about skip­ping this short­ened ma­jor league sea­son.

The Los An­ge­les An­gels’ three-time AL MVP also isn’t sure he’ll still be in uni­form in Oc­to­ber if the An­gels cap­i­tal­ize on the ex­panded op­por­tu­nity by land­ing a play­off berth.

Not much is cer­tain about this unique base­ball sum­mer, but Trout is bet­ting he’ll be glad he took time out from im­pend­ing fa­ther­hood to chase a play­off berth with the re­vi­tal­ized An­gels and new man­ager Joe Mad­don.

“I love play­ing this game,” Trout said when asked why he de­cided to suit up de­spite se­ri­ous mis­giv­ings about base­ball’s at­tempt to play through the Coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

“We want to play, and it’s go­ing to come down to how safe we’re go­ing to be,” he added. “If there’s an out­break or some­thing hap­pens these next few weeks, you’ve got to re­con­sider. (But) I love this game. I think every­one wants base­ball back. It’s a crazy sit­u­a­tion.”

In a nor­mal sea­son, Trout would be thrilled about the chance to team up with An­thony Ren­don, the An­gels’ new $245 mil­lion third base­man. The An­gels’ bat­ting lineup might be the best in Trout’s ca­reer, with the dy­namic duo sur­rounded by Al­bert Pu­jols, Justin Up­ton, All­Star Tommy La Stella and des­ig­nated hit­ter Sho­hei Oh­tani.

A short sea­son and an ex­panded play­off for­mat could help the An­gels, whose medi­ocre pitch­ing

staff was thor­oughly worn down last sea­son. Trout feels con­fi­dent the An­gels can put him in po­si­tion for his first ca­reer play­off vic­tory if the game stays safe and he elects to stick around for the full sea­son.

“I think the team that stays the safest and the health­i­est is go­ing to have the edge,” Trout said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back to full health. We’re go­ing to have a full squad, and it’s go­ing to be fun. I’m look­ing for­ward to this 60-game stretch.”

TWO-WAY SHO­HEI

The ma­jors’ most se­ri­ous two-way player in sev­eral decades is back. Oh­tani ap­pears to be fully re­cov­ered from Tommy John surgery and ea­ger to re­sume his roles in the An­gels’ ro­ta­tion and in their lineup as the des­ig­nated hit­ter. Oh­tani made only 10 mound starts dur­ing his Rookie of the Year sea­son in 2018, so he claims to be less than cer­tain that he can be an ef­fec­tive full-time starter. Mad­don and the An­gels don’t share those con­cerns, and they’re hop­ing Oh­tani can make one start per week on the mound in the short sea­son.

RO­TA­TION TURNS

As they did in 2018, the An­gels likely will use a six­man ro­ta­tion partly to limit Oh­tani’s starts. Af­ter Los An­ge­les had one of the ma­jors’ worst ro­ta­tions last sea­son, it added vet­er­ans Dy­lan Bundy and Julio Te­herán in the off­sea­son. They’re both ex­pected to eat in­nings this sea­son, but Te­herán is quite late re­port­ing to camp from his na­tive Colom­bia, and the An­gels haven’t dis­closed the rea­son. Grif­fin Can­ning and open­ing day starter An­drew Heaney also will be in the ro­ta­tion. Mad­don and new pitch­ing coach Mickey Call­away could as­sign starts to new­comer Matt An­driese, Félix Peña or Pa­trick San­doval.

NEW LOOK

Owner Arte Moreno swooped in to bring home Mad­don af­ter the veteran man­ager left the Chicago Cubs. Mad­don spent the first three decades of his base­ball life work­ing for the An­gels as a player and coach, and he brings pride in this some­times-over­looked fran­chise’s tra­di­tion along with his trade­mark en­thu­si­asm and ac­tive mind. Show­ing zero signs of slow­ing down at 66, Mad­don is de­ter­mined to cor­rect the An­gels’ re­cent di­rec­tion by get­ting the most out of this high-priced ros­ter.

AL­BERT’S SEC­OND DECADE

Pu­jols is likely to be the ma­jors’ old­est player this sea­son af­ter turn­ing 40 last win­ter. The first base­man will be chas­ing more mile­stones in his 20th big league cam­paign and the ninth of his 10-year, $240 mil­lion con­tract with the An­gels. With 656 ca­reer homers, he trails Wil­lie Mays (660) for fifth place in history. Pu­jols would rather have his first play­off vic­tory in a halo, and he hopes to con­trib­ute steadily af­ter a long off­sea­son with no sur­gi­cal set­backs.

ROOK­IES TO WATCH

Top prospect Jo Adell was tipped to play his way onto the big league ros­ter this sum­mer, but a 60-game sea­son might not be enough time. The An­gels don’t have much other young tal­ent ex­pected to make a ma­jor im­pact, but left-han­der Reid Det­mers is on the 60-man ros­ter af­ter be­ing the club’s first-round pick this sum­mer.

As­so­ci­ated Press

MASKED MAN — An­gels cen­ter fielder Mike Trout (27) stands on the field wear­ing a face mask dur­ing a base­ball prac­tice at An­gels Sta­dium on July 3 in Ana­heim. The An­gels start the sea­son at Oak­land on July 24.

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