Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout had been out since July 12. Originally, it was due to back spasms, before he was placed on the IL with left ribcage inflammation. But shortly after his IL stint began, he was diagnosed with a rare back condition.
Luckily, the back condition was not deemed career threatening, but something Trout would likely have to monitor for the remainder of his career. He calmed any concerns by saying he had no doubt he would play again in 2022.
He was true to his word, as he made his return to the Angels lineup on Friday, Aug. 20. Trout assumed the No. 2 position in the batting order behind Shohei Ohtani and ahead of Luis Rengifo. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and a 112.4 mph single.
The Angels ultimately won 1-0 behind a complete game shutout from Patrick Sandoval and a Jared Walsh solo home run. Trout discussed what it meant for him to be back in action after the 30-game hiatus, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s good to be back, I feel good,” Trout said. “It’s always important to be on the field with the guys. You go through August and it’s a grind. Those guys are out there playing hard and it was one of my goals to get back as soon as possible.”
Trout was forced to miss nearly all of the 2021 season after suffering a calf strain in mid-May. He vowed that he wouldn’t miss the rest of the season in this situation, and worked hard to make it back with six weeks to go.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin was impressed with Trout’s return performance, referencing the adjustment time it often takes when a player returns from a long absence.
“He was really good,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “He just missed a triple by like an inch there [in the ninth]. He smoked a ball to left there. They made some good pitches late. The last slider backed up on him in the zone. That’s a guy who hasn’t seen live pitching in a month outside of facing some of our Minor Leaguers the other day. So, it was just good seeing him in there again.”
Trout has stated that he plans to play every day, or as close to it as possible, for the rest of the season. Nevin is still trying to figure out the ideal batting order around Trout and Ohtani, but has confirmed that Trout will stay in the No. 2 hole.
Wins and losses are no longer the primary goal of this season. However, it was important for Trout to get back on the field. Not only to show that he is healthy and that his back shouldn’t be a concern, but also to show his teammates that he worked hard to play alongside them.
Nevin sees Trout’s return helping Ohtani
Playing baseball alongside one of the best to ever do it is obviously a benefit to everyone. But more specifically, Nevin sees Trout’s return helping Ohtani, as he is often pitched around when Trout is not providing a security blanket for him.