It’s been six years since the World Baseball Classic has taken place, and in 2017 the United States won it all. Upon its return, Tony Reagins sought out Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout to be the captain of the United States title defense.
Reagins, MLB’s chief baseball development officer, was tasked as Team USA’s general manager, and Trout was his first priority. A quiet phenom in MLB, Trout has become a beacon of who many call a perfect ballplayer.
Through pool play, Trout posted a 1.421 on-base plus slugging, second among all qualified centerfielders, 13th overall. His six RBI are tied for seventh-most, adding five walks to his slash, and his performance is indicative of his desire to showcase himself on the highest stage.
“People are saying that. I knew signing up the atmosphere would be electric,” Trout said of the WBC. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to do it. So a couple years back when just how electric them games were, and I just wanted to be a part of it.
“And it’s definitely the last few nights it’s been fun baseball for me. It’s fun to go out there and play with the guys and have the crowd behind you like that, chanting ‘USA’ in the ninth. When you run out of the dugout it’s special.”
Having only played in one postseason with the Angels, the WBC has been an eye-opening experience for the ten-time MLB All-Star and three-time American League Most Valuable Player.
“You train all offseason. You know you’ve got to get ready for this thing. And just being a part of it,” Trout said. “You don’t know how guys are around the league. I obviously know the majority of them. I played against them. But being able to go in a clubhouse and have X amount of guys come together as a team, coaching staffs from all over different organizations, seeing how good people they are.
“And obviously the atmosphere. It’s fun baseball. Hearing ‘USA’ chanted, the chants in the ninth inning, and you look in the stands and people are waving the American flag it means a lot to us. And to play for our country, it’s been really fun.”
Team USA advanced through Pool C after they wrapped up a 3-2 win over Columbia on Wednesday, and are set to take on Venezuela in their quarterfinal matchup at loanDepot Park in Miami, Flordia on Saturday.
Mike Trout and Mookie Betts on pairing up in Team USA lineup
Trout was able to recruit some of baseball’s top players, formulating a ‘Dream Team’ of talent including Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, who echoed his sentiments of the undeniably electric atmosphere and what he’s learned about his new teammate.
“I think the main thing is he’s a normal dude,” Betts said of Trout. “Obviously we all know the baseball side of it, but just getting in the clubhouse and just simple things like going to eat together, going to hit together, take defense together.
“You get to know someone and now don’t even really pay attention to the baseball thing. I just look at him as my boy and I’m just out there playing with my boy and he just happens to be Mike Trout.”
This might be the only chance the duo has to suit up on the same team as professionals, and perhaps they’ll get another opportunity to pair up in the next WBC. However, they are two of the faces of Team USA and their joining forces is incredible for baseball and the growth and popularity of the game.
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