Angels Turn Their Eyes To Trout
LOS ANGELES—As his team struggled through the first three weeks of the season, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked about the torrid start top prospect Mike Trout had gotten off to with Triple-A Salt Lake.
"I don't believe anything is imminent," Scioscia said as he sat in the visitor's dugout at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field after being asked if Trout could help spark a turnaround.
"When you're playing that well, you tend to push the door open for yourself."
Two days later, on April 27, the door opened wide for Trout. The 20-year-old was promoted from Salt Lake and veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu was given his release (despite his $9 million salary this season).
While Scioscia emphasized the move was "not a cure-all" for the Angels' early-season funk, general manager Jerry Dipoto was quite clear about the motivation behind it.
"Mike is going to play," Dipoto said. "We want to get Mike into the lineup, see if we can add a little energy, get some spice. He's off to a great start. Just looking to shake things up a little bit is probably the best way to put it."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Trout was hitting .403/.467/.623 with 21 runs scored, six stolen bases and 10 extra-base hits in 20 games at Salt Lake, where he batted leadoff in every one of those games. At the time of his promotion, Angels leadoff hitters had combined for a .195 average and .250 on-base percentage through 20 games, adding to the dysfunction of the struggling lineup.
Last year, Trout, the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, batted leadoff just once in his 32 second-half starts with the Angels. But Scioscia inserted him in that spot immediately after his arrival this time.
"Right now, there are some parts of our club we need to get moving forward," Scioscia said. "I don't think it's going to be a cure-all because there are other things we need to come into play
"This is a young, exciting player who's going to come up and we hope is going to contribute."
Interestingly, Trout and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper—linked as the top two prospects in baseball the past couple years—were promoted to the big leagues on the same day. The two were teammates in the Arizona Fall League and became friends.
Trout said he was on a plane to join the Angels in Cleveland and sent Harper a text message as soon as he heard the news.
"He's in the same situation I'm in," Trout said. "Try not to do too much and just play your game."
• Triple-A Salt Lake catcher Hank Conger went on the disabled list and headed to the minor league complex in Arizona to rehab from an elbow injury suffered in late April. Conger, 24, was off to a good start at the plate, batting .357/.390/.554 in 13 games.
• Lefthander Brad Mills was 2-0, 1.42 in three starts for Salt Lake at the beginning of the season, but he was moved to the bullpen. Dipoto said the move was to see if Mills could handle the more frequent work of a reliever, as the Angels' relief corps has been an area of need.