Trout, Pujols make Cactus League debuts

February 25th, 2019

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels center fielder Mike Trout and designated hitter Albert Pujols made their spring debuts in split-squad action against the Reds on Sunday, as Trout went 0-for-2 while Pujols went 2-for-2 in a 14-2 loss at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Trout served as leadoff hitter, but manager Brad Ausmus said not to read into Trout's position in the order, as Ausmus just wanted to get Trout his at-bats. Trout remains more likely to hit second this season, as the Angels are expected to try out several players at leadoff, including Zack Cozart, Kole Calhoun and David Fletcher.

Trout grounded out to second in the first inning and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play in the third. He was tested defensively in the second inning, when he made a nice running catch on a shallow fly ball hit by Phillip Ervin with the bases loaded.

"It felt good, but obviously the results aren't there yet," Trout said. "But it's just two at-bats this spring. You wait all offseason to get out there and run some balls down in center field and see how it goes."

Trout ran the count full in both of his at-bats and was happy to see so many pitches, but he said it usually takes him a few games to get his timing back. Trout, though, is historically a strong performer in Spring Training just like in the regular season, as he entered a career .361/.447/.658 hitter in 151 Cactus League games.

“I think in spring you want to see as much pitches as you can because the stats obviously don’t count,” Trout said. “It’s more about how you feel up there. But you want to see all the pitches. I had a couple pitches to hit today, but I just didn’t execute. But it’s just the second day.”

Pujols, who is coming off left knee surgery in late August and an operation on his right elbow to remove bone spurs in September, fared better offensively, reaching on an infield single to shortstop in the first and smacking a liner to center in the fourth.

The infield single was a good test for Pujols’ surgically repaired knee, as he was able to beat out the throw from shortstop Jose Peraza, who made a diving stop on the hard-hit grounder in the hole between second and third.

Pujols’ next step will be playing first base in a Spring Training game, as he’s expected to split time at DH and first base with Justin Bour early in the season before Shohei Ohtani return as a DH in May. Pujols played 70 games at first after playing just six games there in '17 and 28 in '16. It was his most games at first base since playing 95 games there in '15.

“Albert looked good,” Ausmus said. “His work has been good the last couple days. [Hitting coach] Jeremy Reed made a point of telling me that. He’s been hitting well in the cage and in batting practice and today he looked good at the plate.”