The Angels reassigned 10 players to their minor league camp Monday, among them Mike Trout, the organization's 19-year-old wunderkind outfielder who has had an eventful spring.
Trout has hit .344 in two minor league seasons in which he also stole 69 bases. And he showed some of that flash early in spring training, getting hits in two of his first four games. He also made a splendid game-saving catch in one early contest, spinning and racing straight back to haul down a long drive to center field.
But he also learned that rookies -- even ones who have been compared favorably to Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays -- are still just rookies. Three days into the Cactus League season, Angel Manager Mike Scioscia called on some young players to choose a partner to take them out to dinner. It was one of a series of often humorous team-building assignments Scioscia gives his players during team meetings each spring morning and, in most cases, a rookie chooses another prospect and they go out for fast food.
In this case, Trout called out veteran pitcher Jered Weaver -- and Weaver's revenge was both swift and painful.
As soon as the meeting ended, Weaver raced to the press box where he talked the scoreboard operator into posting a message -- repeatedly -- on the message board in right-center field during that afternoon's game.
"Call Mike Trout directly with your baseball questions," read the message, which ended with Trout's real cell phone number.
Well, his old real cell phone number we should say. Because Trout got so many calls he had to get a new one.
"I'm not sure what happened, but he got him good," outfielder Peter Bourjos said. "It was a good little prank."
A sore shoulder kept Trout from playing in the outfield for part of his stay in camp but he got 19 at-bats in 12 games, mostly as a designated hitter, and finished his first big-league spring hitting .211
Also reassigned Monday were pitchers Trevor Reckling and Loek Van Mil; outfielders Angel Castillo, Jeremy Moore and Travis Witherspoon; and infielders Gabe Jacobo, Efren Navarro, Darwin Perez and Jean Segura.
Segura, the Angels' top infield prospect, hit .313 in 12 games this spring while Navarro, a 50th-round draft pick in 2007 who played himself into a spring training invite with a good season last year at Double A Arkansas, goes back to the minor league camp as the team's second-leading hitter in exhibition play with a .471 average. Navarro also knocked in three runs in 16 at-bats.
Jacobo, who played at Single A Rancho Cucamonga last summer, hit .200 in nine games this spring while Castillo, a former minor league teammate, hit .167 in 12 at-bats.
Darwin Perez, who played at all three minor league levels for the Angels in 2010, was limited to just three at-bats this spring -- going 1 for 3 -- while Moore, who is on the 40-man roster, got a long look, batting 24 times and hitting .250 with two triples and a pair of stolen bases.
Witherspoon, thrown out just once trying to steal in 30 minor-league stolen bases attempts, struggled in his first big-league spring training, getting just a single in 10 at-bats and striking out four times.
Of the pitchers cut Reckling is the most highly regarded but he, too, struggled this spring, giving up 11 runs and 11 hits in six innings. Van Mil, the tallest man in professional baseball at 7-foot-1, made just two appearances this spring, including a scoreless inning in Monday's "B" game. Bothered by shoulder inflammation and knee tendinitis, the Dutch right-hander, acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins last August, retired just one batter in Cactus League play, allowing an earned run along with a hit and two walks.
The cuts, the third round of roster moves for the Angels in the past week, leaves the team with 47 players in camp, 22 over the opening day limit.
-- Kevin Baxter in Temple, Ariz.