21 Mar 19
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
TEMPE, Ariz. — For Mike Trout, Wednesday marked the first day of the rest of his life as an Angel.
Trout returned to work a day after he was excused from showing up to Tempe Diablo Stadium amid the news that he and the Angels had agreed to a 12-year, $426.5-million deal.
With the record-breaking contract still not finalized, Trout declined to talk to the media.
Instead, he laughed with his teammates during stretching, as they discussed the feasibility of bringing a fish on team flights.
“Only if it’s a service fish,” quipped Manager Brad Ausmus.
Trout took batting practice, and then he headed down to the minor league complex to load up on seven plate appearances.
Facing Cody Allen, Jaime Barría and top prospect Griffin Canning, Trout had three hits and a walk. He hit a homer off Barría, just after giving a sideways glance to the minor league umpire who had called a strike on a pitch he felt was out of the zone.
Trout also spent a few minutes chatting with former teammate Torii Hunter, who was on hand to watch his son, an Angels prospect.
Trout is likely to get back on the field in a Cactus League game on Thursday, when the Angels travel to Salt River Fields for a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In the meantime, it was up to his teammates to react to the news that Trout had essentially agreed to spend the rest of his career with the Angels.
Shohei Ohtani, the only one of his teammates who could possibly still be with him when the contract expires in 2030, said he was thrilled with the news.
“I’m just simply really happy and excited to play with such a great player such a long time,” Ohtani, 24, said through his interpreter. “If anybody deserves that contract, it’s Mike.”
Trout, of course, spoke to Ohtani via FaceTime during the Angels’ first recruiting meeting with the Japanese star.
“He seemed like a really nice genuine guy,” Ohtani said, recalling the conversation. “He actually was when I met him also. That impression hasn’t changed… Last year I had a lot of questions to ask him. He’s a guy I leaned on.”
Ohtani continued throwing and taking batting practice on Wednesday. He was cleared to take regular batting practice in the cage against a coach on Sunday, and so far he said he’s feeling good.
“Body-wise, there are no issues,” Ohtani said. “But there are some things I still need to polish. It’s getting there.”
Ohtani said he’ll be ready to move to batting practice on the field as soon as the medical staff clears him. There is no timetable for that step.
Ausmus also said that Ohtani’s rehab has gone to plan, so far.
“The whole time he’s really been on target,” Ausmus said.
Ohtani also said he stayed up to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Oakland A’s in Tokyo, a game that started at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning in Arizona. Ohtani wanted to see Ichiro Suzuki.
“More than just being a fan, he was somebody every kid looked up to,” Ohtani said. “He’s a really iconic figure.”
Although Justin Upton and Zack Cozart are now healthy and back in the lineup, apparently ready to start the season on the active roster, Ausmus said that they may not be ready to play everyday immediately. …
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]As expected, Ausmus said the plan is for Albert Pujols to be the DH as much as possible, at least until Ohtani returns. “We’ll try to keep him healthy the entire year, if possible,” Ausmus said. “I think DH-ing is one way of doing it.” Ausmus said he’s been encouraged that Pujols that “hasn’t had any physical issues” this spring. …
Nick Tropeano was scheduled Wednesday for his first bullpen session since he was shut down with a shoulder problem in the first days of spring training. Tropeano has said if all goes well he could be able to pitch by late April. …
Kaleb Cowart cleared waivers and was outrighted. That will allow the Angels to keep Cowart in the minor leagues, as they continue to develop him as a two-way player. It also clears a 40-man roster spot. The Angels could have as many as three non-roster players make the team – Peter Bourjos, Dan Jennings and Daniel Hudson – so they’d need to clear spots for them.