Angels rookie Mike Trout has become a national sensation. (Sports Illustrated )
BOSTON — Mike Trout is a lock for American League rookie of the year, and he's a leading candidate for most valuable player, but this week he reached a different kind of sports pinnacle.
Trout, 21, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, holding a bat under the headline, "The Supernatural."
Trout is the seventh Angels player to make Sports Illustrated's cover, a list that includes Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew and Albert Pujols. Several players from the 2002 team graced the cover after the Angels won the World Series.
In his story on Trout, SI's Tom Verducci writes, "There never has been a position player this good this young." The story reflects a growing belief that Trout, in his first full season, is the best, or certainly one of the best, players in the game. He entered Wednesday leading the league with a .344 batting average, 97 runs, 39 stolen bases, a .606 slugging percentage and 1.014 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Trout has also handled the attention and acclaim with a great deal of maturity. He has remained humble, modest and, most important for the Angels, focused.
"It's tough enough coming up here and getting acclimated to the major leagues without having such a spotlight put on you," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But it's on you for a good reason. It's not like he's up here failing and everyone's saying, 'What's happening?' He's up here competing."
Scioscia praised the Angels' media relations department, headed by Tim Mead, vice president of communications, for helping Trout navigate all the media requests.
"It can be an incredible distraction for a young player," Scioscia said, "but they've done a good job of organizing and channeling it so he can meet the needs of the fans and the media and keep his tunnel vision on getting ready to play baseball."
Bourjos to DL
A right wrist injury that Peter Bourjos initially suffered when he was hit by a pitch during a bunting drill in spring training sent the reserve center fielder to the disabled list Wednesday. The Angels replaced him on the roster with right-hander Garrett Richards, who will pitch out of the bullpen.
"It's been bothering me off and on all year, and the inflammation is still there," said Bourjos, who started only one of the team's previous 20 games. "I've been trying to manage it for a while, and it wasn't improving."
Bourjos received a cortisone injection in the wrist Sunday, but an MRI test revealed no structural damage, just normal wear and tear.