YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Team player

Mike Trout, the American League rookie of the year in 2012, is trying to recover from a slow start this season but is mainly worried about the Angels' poor record

May 07, 2013|Kevin Baxter

Ask Mike Trout about the two hits, two runs and one stolen base he had Sunday and he'll point you to two other numbers, the ones that showed the Angels had lost again.

Ask him about the recent six-game tear in which he had four two-hit games and 10 runs batted in and he'll remind you the Angels won only two of those games. And should you bring up the fact he leads the team in RBIs, steals, doubles, triples and runs he'll tell you the Angels are nine games under .500 for the first time in nearly seven years.

"Mike's not a real big numbers guy," his father, Jeff Trout, said. "Like every player he knows his batting average. But it's never been an obsession. Mike always seems to be more focused on wins and losses."

His focus must be a bit blurred, because when the Angels open a six-game trip Tuesday in Houston they'll be much closer to the last-place Astros than the division-leading Texas Rangers. And although it's still early, the Angels' 11-20 start and .355 winning percentage have them on pace to finish as the worst team in franchise history.

But you can't blame that on Trout, because with the exception of his .275 batting average, the Angels' sophomore outfielder is putting up numbers nearly identical to his stats after 31 games last season, a season in which he was the American League rookie of the year and finished second in voting for most valuable player.

"It's not much of a sophomore slump," said Angels hitting coach Jim Eppard, who worked with Trout in the minors. "He's the same guy. It's the same work ethic in the cage. His routine's the same, nothing's changing."

Trout, 21, certainly didn't look the same at the start of the season, driving in only two runs and stealing one base in the first two weeks.

"Go back to last month, I was swinging at balls," he said. "Swinging at pitches I can't hit because they were off the plate. Now I'm keying on that one single pitch and not chasing."

His batting stance had also opened slightly, a flaw Eppard helped correct. Since then Trout has driven in 20 runs in 18 games, with a dozen of his RBIs coming with two out. Only five players in the AL have more two-out RBIs.

If there's one place Trout continues to lag behind his sensational rookie season, it's in the field, where he made numerous highlight-reel catches while robbing four home runs and saving 23 runs in 2012. This season he has made two errors, half as many as he committed in 139 games last year. And he played two fly balls into extra-base hits in one game last week in Oakland, one as a left fielder and one in center field.

"It's definitely an adjustment when you play one position and then you keep flip-flopping," said Trout, a natural center fielder who has played twice as many games in left field this season. "You've played center field your whole life and then you move over, it's just seeing balls. So you've got to make adjustments throughout the game."

The adjustments the Angels must make now, however, have more to do with a pitching staff that has given up the most walks and second-most hits and earned runs in the majors. The team also leads the league in errors and, going into Monday's games, only one team had more runners thrown out trying to steal.

But you can't blame that last stat on Trout since he has been caught once in six tries -- not that he's counting.

"He's not chasing numbers," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's trying to help us win."


Angels reliever Sean Burnett got some good news after being examined by Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Monday. "Everything came back good," Burnett said in a text message. "Just some forearm inflammation and some nerve irritation. He gave me a shot, and I will need to take a few days off from throwing." Burnett had a 1.04 earned-run average in 11 appearances before being put on the 15-day disabled list April 28. Burnett felt discomfort between appearances, which prevented him from pitching on consecutive days.


Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

Los Angeles Times Articles