Los Angeles Angels superstar center fielder Mike Trout figures to be back in good health after a frustrating 2021 season. Following one of the best 30-game stretches of his illustrious career, Trout suffered a calf strain in mid-May that would keep him out for the remainder of the year.
Entering 2022 — Trout’s age-31 season — coming off such a major injury, Joe Maddon and the Angels have to start being cautious with Trout’s long-term health. The 36 games he played in 2021 proved that he is still an elite offensive talent, but perhaps his defense has taken a small step back.
Because of that, Maddon and Angels GM Perry Minasian spoke about potentially moving him to a corner outfield position, making Brandon Marsh the permanent starting center fielder, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“There’s a lot to discuss and we haven’t had a chance to discuss it,” Maddon said. “We will. No conclusions have been made. None. But I would be disingenuous if I didn’t tell you this has been part of the conversation. It has.”
“To play center field everyday in the big leagues, coming off a severe injury, it’s not going to be easy,” Maddon said. “Then again playing the corner is not that easy. Playing left field in our ballpark, it actually gets big.”
At the time of these comments — Sunday afternoon — Maddon and Minasian had not yet talked with Trout about this move. But over the past day, the two sides did meet, and Trout expressed to them his desire to stay a center fielder for at least this season.
Mike Trout said he and Joe Maddon had a talk today about whether he should play CF. He said they’re “on the same page,” but added he prefers to play CF. Also said he found out about it on Twitter yesterday. #Angels
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) March 14, 2022
For now, it does make some sense to keep Trout at center field. Of course, him expressing a desire to stay there should make this case open and shut. But the concern on the part of Maddon and Minasian was not completely unfounded.
Based on the 2021 season, it’s reasonable to assume that Marsh, 24, may be a better pure defender than Trout. However, Marsh’s offensive output was deeply inconsistent during his first MLB season, and entrusting someone so young with the league’s premier defensive position is a tough move to make.
Keeping Trout in center field and moving Marsh to left field still keeps the defense strong and allowed for more flexibility is Marsh goes through another rough patch at the plate.
Kurt Suzuki re-signs with Angels
After considering retirement through most of the lockout, catcher Kurt Suzuki decided he’d like to play at least one more year. The Angels, needing a backup catcher behind Max Stassi, returned to their 2021 backup, reportedly signing Suzuki to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.