The Los Angeles Angels will host the Houston Astros on Friday in the opener of a three-game series in Anaheim, Calif., without Mike Trout in center field.
Trout hasn’t played since May 17, when he sustained a Grade 2 right calf strain. The initial diagnosis had him returning to the active roster in eight weeks, but he still hasn’t come back and there is no timetable for him to rejoin the Angels.
“Mike’s working hard to get back,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He’s working. Calves are tricky. … I’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of players in my career (but) haven’t been around many that love the game as much as he does. I mean, he sleeps it, breathes it, eats it.
“He’s doing everything he can in his power to get back as soon as he can. From our end, we will not rush him. We want him to feel good about how his calf feels.”
The Angels have started four players in center field since Trout got hurt: Juan Lagares (48 starts), Brandon Marsh (20), Taylor Ward (eight).
Trout’s absence gave Marsh a chance to break into the big leagues, possibly sooner than the organization anticipated, as the 23-year-old was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on July 18. And he’s getting an extended look, having started all but four of the team’s games since his arrival.
Marsh has struggled at the plate, hitting just .173 with no homers, five doubles and two RBIs in 25 games. The organization’s No. 1 prospect managed his second career multi-hit game Thursday, going 2-for-4 as the Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 to split a four-game series.
“He’s been outstanding, really good,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Over the past year, he’s dealt with some difficult moments, including the passing of his father. But from the first time I saw him, just the way he moves. We talk about that with Shohei (Ohtani). I’m not comparing him with Shohei, but just the way his body moves very fluently. He can do both sides of the ball really well.”
Right-hander Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.69 ERA) will start for Houston on Friday against Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-5, 3.39).
Greinke is winless in his past two starts, giving up a total of nine runs (seven earned) in 10 innings in no-decisions against the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins.
Greinke is 6-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 career games (17 starts) against the Angels.
Sandoval is 0-2 with a 10.64 ERA in four career games (three starts) against Houston. He is 1-3 in his past five starts despite compiling a 2.70 ERA in that span.
Like Trout with the Angels, the Astros continue to be without one of their stars, Alex Bregman. The third baseman has been sidelined since June 17 due to a strained left quad.
“I wish I could have two months ago been like, ‘This is the day I’m going to be back playing,'” Bregman said. “But it’s just not the case with these types of injuries. Getting really close. I feel like everything is going in the right direction and continuing to improve.”
Abraham Toro got most of the starts at third base in place of Bregman, but he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in late July. Aledmys Diaz is getting his chance now, and he’s making the most of it, going 8-for-16 with three doubles and six RBIs in his past four games.
Diaz went 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs on Wednesday as the Astros beat the visiting Colorado Rockies 5-1 to complete a two-game sweep. Houston was idle Thursday ahead of the series in Anaheim.
–Field Level Media