Advertisement

Albert Pujols sees a lot of himself in Mike Trout

Trout is coming off a rookie-of-the-year season, just as Pujols did 11 years ago. Pujols says Trout will need to learn to say 'no' because 'everybody is going to want a piece of him.'

February 14, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

TEMPE, Ariz. — To his right on a podium lined with three Angels stars, Albert Pujols saw a reflection of himself.

There was 21-year-old phenom Mike Trout, fresh off a 2012 season in which he won American League rookie-of-the-year honors and placed second in most-valuable-player voting, answering questions about an encore.

Pujols was in a similar position in 2002, a 22-year-old coming off a season in which he hit .329 with 37 homers and 130 runs batted in and was named National League rookie of the year. Trout hit .326 with 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 129 runs and 49 stolen bases last season.

"There are going to be a lot of expectations on Mike," Pujols said at a Thursday news conference that included Trout and Josh Hamilton. "He needs to know how to say 'no' sometimes to people, because everybody is going to want a piece of him. He needs to stay focused and do what he needs to do."

Though Trout's winter was filled with awards banquets, photo shoots for magazines and endorsement deals and media requests, he said he found plenty of time to hit the gym.

The outfielder reported to camp ahead of Friday's first full-squad workout at 240 pounds, about 10 to 15 pounds more than he weighed at the end of last season. He looked more like an NFL fullback than a leadoff batter.

"I'll lose five to 10 pounds during spring training, so I felt coming in heavier would help for where I need to be throughout the year," said Trout, who lost 15-20 pounds because of a viral infection last spring. "I feel great."

As for that encore, Trout plans to "just have fun, play my game, don't push myself too much," he said. "When I play baseball, I'm not worried about what people think or what they're saying. I have one thing on my mind, to enjoy the game and do anything to help the team win."

Back in time

Pujols and Hamilton developed a friendship while attending several All-Star games, but they first met at a 1999 pre-draft workout at Tropicana Field in Florida.

"I heard this guy was going to be a No. 1 pick, and I was like, 'Yeah, right,' " Pujols said of Hamilton. "Then he started taking batting practice, and I was like, 'Are you serious?' "

Tampa Bay selected Hamilton with the first pick that year, but Hamilton was derailed by an addiction to drugs and alcohol and was suspended for three seasons before becoming a five-time All-Star and 2010 AL MVP.

Pujols, a 13th-round pick, became one of the best hitters in history.

"I don't remember anything, man," Hamilton said of that 1999 workout. "I took a little different route than Albert did. I forgot a few things along the way. But we're here together now."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|