It’s early, but the Los Angeles Angels are optimistic that three-time MVP Mike Trout is back.
Trout and his Angels teammates will attempt to complete a four-game sweep of the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif. Cleveland has lost six in a row while Los Angeles has won four straight.
Some will say Trout never left, but the past two seasons he was not the Trout so many have grown accustomed to.
It’s not so much that Trout didn’t perform, but rather that he wasn’t able to perform because he wasn’t on the field. He played in 53 games in a COVID-shortened 2020 season and just 36 games last year because of a calf injury.
Last year marked the first time in 10 seasons he didn’t rank among the top five in the American League MVP voting, but he is off to a start that reminds observers of what they’d been missing.
Trout went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and two RBIs on Wednesday in the Angels’ 9-5 win over the Guardians, and he now leads the majors in slugging percentage (.808) and OPS (1.284).
The 30-year-old center fielder is hitting .365 with five homers, six doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs.
Trout also survived a scare on April 17 when he was hit squarely on the back of his left hand by a pitch from the Rangers’ Spencer Patton. Instead of a sustaining a broken hand and missing several weeks, if not months, Trout was found to have only a contusion. He missed three games but returned to the lineup with a bang.
Since getting back in action on Friday, Trout is 11-for-22 with three homers, three doubles, one triple and seven RBIs in six games.
Trout was asked by reporters if “peak Mike Trout” is back.
“Peak Mike Trout?” he said, repeating the question. “I’ll leave that up to you guys to decide. But I feel good out there, and I’m obviously healthy.
“I’m very confident in what I do, and I have fun out there doing it. Just trying to help the team win. I’ve been playing baseball my whole life.”
Angels left-hander Reid Detmers (0-1, 6.57 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Thursday, still looking for what would be the second win of his major league career.
Detmers faced Cleveland once last season during his first major league campaign, taking a loss after allowing three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
He is coming off his best start of the 2022 season, however. Detmers gave up two runs on three hits and one walk in five innings but was tagged with the loss against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-0, 3.94 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for the Guardians. He is coming off his longest outing of the season, 6 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Saturday, when he got a no-decision after allowing three runs and six hits.
Quantrill is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two career games (one start) against Los Angeles, with both outings occurring last year.
While the Guardians have been struggling at the plate lately, they have gotten production from first baseman Owen Miller, who was among the league leaders in several offensive categories before having to go to the COVID-related injured list and missing five games.
Miller returned to the active roster Sunday and his numbers still look good — he is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with a 1.300 OPS — but he said he tries not to get caught up in his stats at this point in the season.
“I always like to say, ‘Don’t let early numbers fool you, good or bad,'” said Miller, who went 2-for-3 on Wednesday. “I just try to keep a level head and get to work each day and focus on the next day’s pitcher.”
Miller has one hit in two career at-bats against Detmers. Jose Ramirez, who homered twice for Cleveland on Wednesday, is 2-for-2 with a double and a home run vs. Detmers.
–Field Level Media