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Category: Mike Trout

Trout leaving an impression on Angels

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The Angels were still talking Wednesday about Mike Trout's two-home run game from the night before.

"I don't believe he's only 20," said pitcher Jerome Williams.  "How the [heck] did he do that? He hit a pitch that was on the ground."

Two of them actually, with Trout reaching out to lift two low breaking pitches from Anthony Vasquez well over the left-field wall. At 20 years and 23 days, he is the youngest player in franchise history to have a multi-homer game.

Trout, the youngest player in the majors, was back in the lineup again Wednesday against reigning Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.

"He's got an idea in the batter's box," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

More than an idea, apparently, with the Angels winning 14 of 17 games Trout has started.

"He's definitely contributed," Scioscia said.

Meanwhile the Texas Rangers, the team the Angels are chasing in the American League West race, made a couple of moves just hours before the deadline to set playoff rosters, acquiring left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later and picking up catcher Matt Treanor from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.

In the last month the Rangers have added three premium relievers while the Angels, whose biggest question now is the bullpen according to Scioscia, have stood pat.

"We can't have our time consumed with thinking about what clubs are doing," Scioscia said. "Our team right here still has the opportunity to reach our goals. And that's what we're going to focus on. That's the long and short of it. Right now we're the best team we've been all year. And we'll see where we end when we get through this pennant race."

The lineups:

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Mike Trout sent down by Angels to double-A Arkansas

Photo: Mike Trout. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images.

On Sunday,  Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said he expected top prospect Mike Trout to be in an Angels uniform when the team returned home Tuesday.

On Monday, Reagins optioned Trout back to double-A Arkansas.

Reagins and Manager Mike Scioscia didn't hide their uncertainty over what to do with Trout, who is 19 and just two years removed from high school. While they felt he needed to play every day to continue his development, they also recognized the Angels had no one in their farm system who could help the big-league club off the bench as much as Trout could.

Trout was called up July 8 and started  12 games in the outfield, with the Angels going 9-3 in those games. But he seemed overmatched at the plate at times, hitting .163 and striking out 10 times in 43 at-bats.

The Angels will make a corresponding move Tuesday to fill Trout's roster spot.

-- Kevin Baxter in Detroit

Photo: Mike Trout. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images.

Angels prospect Mike Trout to get start in left field

Trout_275 Manager Mike Scioscia said teenage prospect Mike Trout won't stay in the big leagues long unless the Angels can find some consistent playing time for him. One potential solution may be the lineup the Angels rolled out Wednesday, with Trout starting in left field alongside Peter Bourjos.

"Once or twice a week is probably going to be tough for a young player. It's going to be tough for him to produce and we'd probably look to go in a different direction," Scioscia said. "Right now we can buy a couple of days here and see where we are by the weekend and make a determination if Mike has enough of a role to help us win games."

With left-hander David Huff starting for the Indians, Scioscia sat Bobby Abreu on Wednesday and used Vernon Wells as the designated hitter, opening a place in the outfield for Trout.  If the Angels conclude there is no regular role for Trout he'll probably be sent back to the minors where he can play every day and continue to develop Scioscia said.

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Mike Trout's first home run ball too precious to keep, fan says

Mike Trout watches his first career home run, hit against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday.

Apparently the Angels aren't the only ones who believe teenager Mike Trout is going to have a memorable career.

Zack Hample, the New York-based writer and collector who caught Trout's first home run ball Sunday in Baltimore, said another fan offered him $500 for the memento on the spot. But Hample refused, giving the souvenir to Trout instead.

"I just don't see dollar signs when I catch these balls," Hample, 33, said Monday. "I just wanted the kid to get his ball back, you know?"

Two weeks ago Christian Lopez, a 23-year-old cellphone salesman from New York, caught the ball Derek Jeter hit into the stands at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th hit. It was estimated he could have sold that ball for hundreds of thousands of dollars but he turned the ball over to Jeter instead. (The Yankees rewarded him with four season tickets in a suite while Jeter gave him two signed jerseys and some autographed balls and bats.)

Hample said he caught Trout's homer on the fly after running about 20 feet, climbing over a row of seats and lunging to his left.

"I was pretty pleased with my performance," he said.

On his blog the Baseball Collector, Hample claims to have caught 5,270 baseballs at 48 major league ballparks since 1990. And though two of them were historic -- he caught Barry Bonds 724th homer in 2006 and grabbed the final Mets home run at Shea Stadium in 2008 -- he said he has never taken money for a baseball.

Trout, at the suggestion of the Angels, gave him an autographed ball in trade Sunday. Hample said that surprised him.

"I simply told stadium security that I wanted to be the one to hand the ball back to Trout so that I could shake his hand," said Hample, who got a signed bat after catching Met Mike Nickeas' only major-league home run in April. "His token gift was cool but it really didn't mean nearly as much as simply catching the home run in the first place and getting to be a part of this historic moment."

RELATED:

Trout homer leads to win

Older Angels trying to figure things out

Angels aren't looking to make major deals

-- Kevin Baxter in Baltimore

Photo: Mike Trout watches his first career home run, hit against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images

Angels unhook a Trout, among other small fries

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.

Angels_logo 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.

 

Angels prospects get a last chance to show their stuff

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With the first round of roster cuts looming after Sunday's split-squad games with Seattle and Cincinnati, several Angel prospects will be trying to make the most of their final chance to leave an impression with the big-league coaching staff.

In the main game in Tempe, top prospect Mike Trout will be the designated hitter. The speedy Trout has been unable to play in the field because of shoulder stiffness and Manager Mike Scioscia has said he could be among the early transfers to the minor league side. Right-hander Ervin Santana will pitch in that game and is scheduled to go four innings or 55 pitches, whichever comes first.

On the road in Goodyear, a team made up largely of minor league prospects will play the Reds. One player who has already had a big spring is first baseman Efren Navarro, who is hitting .417. 

Lineup vs. Seattle at Tempe

SS -- Erick Aybar

RF -- Bobby Abreu

CF -- Vernon Wells

2B -- Howie Kendrick

1B -- Mark Trumbo

C -- Hank Conger

3B -- Brandon Wood

LF -- Chris Pettit

DH -- Mike Trout

P -- Ervin Santana

Lineup vs. Reds at Goodyear

SS -- Kevin Romine

DH -- Alberto Callaspo

C -- Jeff Mathis

RF -- Angel Castillo

LF -- Jeremy Moore

1B -- Efren Navarro

3B -- Gil Velazquez

2B -- Kevin Melillo

CF -- Travis Witherspoon

P -- Garrett Richards

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Angels prospect Mike Trout during a spring training game. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Angels exploring all their roster options

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The Angels have four players -- pitchers Rich Thompson and Jason Bulger, catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Brandon Wood -- on their 40-man roster who are out of minor league options, meaning if the team tries to send them down to the minors the players must pass through waivers first, giving every other team a chance to claim them.

And that possibility will definitely affect the way Manager Mike Scioscia sets his opening day roster.

Wilson_350 Scioscia has been saying all spring he intended to start the season with 12 pitchers, but he backed off slightly Wednesday.

"Hopefully we’re going to be at 12," he said. "Realistically we do have some off-days early. We have a couple of guys who don’t have flexibility as far as going to the minors."

With three off-days in the first 15 days of the season, Scioscia now says the team could probably get through the first three weeks with just 11 pitchers. That would allow the team to keep both Wood and rookie Mark Trumbo as an insurance policy if Kendrys Morales and his bad ankle are less than 100% coming out of spring training.

Wilson and Bulger are both highly likely to make the team under any circumstances. Thompson, however, is on the bullpen bubble and any reduction in the size of the pitching staff could cost him a job. Putting someone on the disabled list for opening day would create another option, though.

"If somebody’s banged up at the end and on the DL we might have the option of being at 11 [pitchers] at the start of the season," he said.

Other Wednesday morning notes as the Angels prepare for their Cactus League exhibition with the Colorado Rockies:

  • Scioscia said Morales is in the final stages of his treadmill program and is taking part in defensive drills at first base. There is still no timetable for when he'll be able to play in a game. But his swing is already in midseason form. Morales, batting left-handed, was impressive in batting practice Wednesday as the ball jumped off his bat. The switch-hitting slugger hit several balls over the wall, both towering fly balls and line drives. When he hits the ball it just sounds different, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. Scioscia added a note of caution. "There's a difference between hitting a ball at 50 mph in batting practice and hitting in a game," he said.
  • No. 1 prospect Mike Trout has been limited to designated hitter duties because of a sore shoulder and Scioscia said the 19-year-old outfielder, a nonroster invitee to spring training, will be reassigned to minor league camp within a week. But he'll be leaving an impression behind. Scioscia said Trout got from home to first in 3.98 seconds after hitting a ground ball to short in a recent exhibition. That time ranks him among the fastest players in baseball history.
  • Right-hander Trevor Bell, who hasn't pitched since coming out of his March 2 appearance with some stiffness, was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday and could be back in a game soon.
  • With Morales' status for opening day uncertain. Wood has been seeing more and more action and first base during defensive drills.
  • Infielder Alberto Callaspo's sore shoulder is recovering nicely and Scioscia said he could play in the field for the first time this spring in a couple of days.

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

Bottom photo: Jason Bulger. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

Top photo: Bobby Wilson. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press

Angels' prospect making fast impression

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Mike Trout, the Angels' No. 1 minor-league prospect, is one of the fastest men in baseball. But he may only be the second-fastest outfielder in the team's spring training camp.

Travis Witherspoon, like Trout a nonroster invitee, could certainly give Trout a run for his money. And he can play a little bit too, as he showed Monday by running down a long wind-blown drive against the Cubs.

"He’s one of those really athletic kids," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of Witherspoon, a 21-year-old from Sumter, S.C. "He’s been compared to a Gary Maddox-type, a guy that can really play center field and has plus speed and has to learn the offensive side of this game.

"But he has great potential. He’s representing himself very well. So it’s a step forward for the young man."

Witherspoon entered Tuesday with just one hit in four at-bats this spring. But he hit .309 in his second year of rookie ball last year. And in two seasons he's been thrown out just once in 31 stolen-base attempts.

"You run enough, you'll get caught," said Witherspoon, who couldn't name the catcher that got him but did remember it came against a Dodgers farm team.

"It was a muddy track," he added with a smile. "Sandy."

Tuesday morning notes before the Angels' Cactus League rematch with the Texas Rangers:

-- Infielder Alberto Callaspo had the afternoon off after participating in rundown drills. He has been testing his sore shoulder by throwing up to 120 feet and said his arm was improving.

-- Scioscia met behind closed doors with a couple of players after the team's regular mid-morning meeting, though he refused to identify the players or the subject of the meeting. Members of the media, who generally have free rein of the clubhouse and the hallway outside Scioscia's office, were banned from the building before the players were called to the manager's office.

"I had a couple of kids I had I to talk," Scioscia said. "We didn’t send them out but just prepped them for some stuff."

-- The Angels brought three extra pitchers over from the minor league side for Tuesday's game, leaving them with 67 players in camp. Scioscia said he doesn't expect to trim that number until next week since the team plays split-squad games on Thursday and Sunday.

"We should have enough innings for the guys to get their work in,” Scioscia said.

-- Scott Kazmir will start Wednesday against Colorado and is scheduled to throw four innings or 55 pitches, whichever comes first. He will be the first Angels pitcher to go that far.

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Travis Witherspoon. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

Angels may have baseball's best football team

Bobby_300 Should NFL owners lock out their regular players and try to field replacement teams instead, the Angels spring training camp might prove fertile ground for recruiting quarterbacks since a half-dozen of the organization's best players were also standout quarterbacks in high school.

The best might have been pitcher Bobby Cassevah, who committed to play football at Louisiana State University despite having his senior season at Florida's Pace High School wiped out by Tommy John surgery.

"I loved football the best in high school," said Cassevah, who turned his back on LSU despite the fact the Angels, spooked by the elbow operation, waited until the 34th round of the 2004 draft to take him.  "[But] I think I made the right choice. Where I'm at now, I'm happy. I play fantasy football.”

Cassevah, who hurt his arm throwing a football, not a baseball, made his major league debut last season and joined a teamthat includes former quarterback Scott Kazmir, who played at Houston's Cypress Falls High. Other Angels who were top-flight signal-callers in high school include outfielders Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Mike Trout and catcher Jeff Mathis. Hunter lettered in four sports -- football, baseball, basketball and track -- at Arkansas' Pine Bluff High while Wells, whose father, Vernon Sr., played in the Canadian Football League, was an all-state football player in Texas. Although Trout had the athletic tools to be a quarterback prospect, he stopped playing early in high school in New Jersey. And Mathis led his school to the Florida state championship game in football.

In an era of specialization in which many top high school athletes tend to concentrate on one sport, Cassevah said he doesn't know how the Angels wound up so many two-sport standouts.

“I have no idea," he said. "I think everybody here was the best player on their high school team, no matter what it was. The guy with the best arm out there, I guess that’s the best athlete."

That's how hard-throwing reliever Jordan Walden wound up throwing passes in Texas, although he stopped in the eighth grade.

"I had the best arm," he said.

Then again, maybe football acumen is something the organization looks for since General Manager Tony Reagins didn't play baseball at Indio High -- but he was a standout tailback good enough to be recruited by Oregon State.

-- Kevin Baxter in Mesa, Ariz.

Photo: Bobby Cassevah. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

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