The Angels have been without Mike Trout for a couple weeks. The three-time MVP went on the injured list on July 18 with rib cage inflammation, and while he’s technically now eligible to return, his timetable to get back on the field remains uncertain.
Yesterday, the team’s head trainer Mike Frostad addressed Trout’s injury with reporters (including Sam Blum of the Athletic and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). Frostad said Trout had been diagnosed with “a costovertebral dysfunction” in his back, which he called “a pretty rare condition.” The trainer added the situation was something the club “(has) to look at as — he has to manage it, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career probably.”
Frostad’s note about the necessity to monitor the condition throughout Trout’s career was an impetus for understandable concern among the Angels fanbase, but the future Hall of Famer quickly reassured he’s not worried about the issue long-term. “I appreciate all the prayer requests, but my career isn’t over,” Trout half-jokingly told reporters about the public response to Frostad’s comments. Trout added he feels he’s made progress in his recovery over the past few days, and replied “of course, that’s my goal” when asked whether he expected to return to the field in 2022. He conceded he’ll need to “stay on top of the routine I do on a daily basis to prevent it from coming back,” to Frostad’s point about managing the condition, but expressed optimism it won’t be particularly problematic.
Trout’s hopefulness is certainly welcome news for Halos fans and the organization at large, but it seems he’s still set to be out of action for the near future. He’s yet to begin baseball activities after receiving a cortisone injection last week. Trout will see a back specialist this weekend, he told reporters, and hopes to receive clearance to ramp up his work beyond the cardio and core stability training he’s been doing.
The Angels lost Trout for the majority of last season. He played in 36 games before suffering a calf strain in May. While the club initially hoped he could return within two months, the injury lingered long enough they eventually shut him down for the season. Trout has returned to get into 79 games thus far in 2022, and he’s had a typically stellar year. Through 326 plate appearances, the ten-time All-Star is hitting .270/.368/.599 with 24 home runs. Among hitters with 300+ trips to the plate, only Yordan Álvarez, Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Judge and Rafael Devers have a wRC+ higher than Trout’s 167 — a mark that indicates he’s been 67 percentage points better than the league average batter.
In a script all too familiar, Trout’s excellence hasn’t been enough to overcome the roster’s other flaws. The Halos enter play Thursday with a 42-56 record that’ll almost certainly lead to an eighth consecutive year without reaching the postseason. The club’s place in the standings figures to increase their caution in bringing Trout back, as it did last year.