Angels look to close gap on Texas; Trout discusses minor league award
The Angels have a chance to shave a game off the Texas Rangers' American League West lead Wednesday night. The Rangers lost to Tampa Bay, 5-4, earlier Wednesday, and if the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners Wednesday night, they will be 2 1/2 games back with 19 games to play.
With left-hander Charlie Furbush starting for the Mariners, Mike Trout is back in the lineup, starting in right field, and Peter Bourjos is back at the top of the order, hitting second. The Angels are 18-4 this season in games Trout has started.
Wednesday afternoon, the Angels held a news conference for Trout so the 20-year-old could field questions about being named Baseball America's minor league player of the year. Among the previous award winners are Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Joe Mauer, Dwight Gooden and Tim Salmon.
"I read that list today," Trout said. "Jeter is on it, a guy who just got his 3,000th hit, Salmon got it. It’s just a great honor."
Trout, the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, won the award by hitting .326 with a .414 on-base percentage, 82 runs, 11 homers, 13 triples and 33 stolen bases in 91 games for double-A Arkansas, which is currently playing in the Texas League playoffs.
"Coming into the year, my personal goal was to make the playoffs in double A," Trout said. "Now I have a chance to make them in the big leagues. It's definitely a bigger jump."
Trout was called up for the first time July 8 and hit .163 in 14 games during his first stint with the Angels. He was sent back to Arkansas on July 31 and since being recalled for a second time on Aug. 19, Trout is batting .317 (13 for 41) with four homers, 11 runs and eight RBIs in 14 games.
"When I first got called up I was jittery, nervous, trying to do too much," Trout said. "When I was sent down, I realized this is where I wanted to be. I came up, knew what to expect and went with that."
Trout seems more than comfortable in the big leagues now -- he looks like he belongs. The biggest challenge of playing in the major leagues, he said, is "realizing it’s just a game played before more people. You have to take a deep breath a couple of times. That was big thing. My first game I looked up and saw four decks and 40,000 people. It’s a little different than high school."
The Angels lineup: 3B Maicer Izturis, CF Peter Bourjos, 2B Howie Kendrick, DH Torii Hunter, 1B Mark Trumbo, LF Vernon Wells, RF Mike Trout, SS Erick Aybar, C Bobby Wilson, P Jerome Williams.
The Mariners lineup: RF Ichiro Suzuki, SS Brendan Ryan, 2B Dustin Ackley, LF Mike Carp, 1B Justin Smoak, C Miguel Olivo, DH Wily Mo Pena, CF Trayvon Robinson, 3B Alex Liddi, P Charlie Furbush.
Photo: Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout singles against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field last month. Credit: Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images