Trout to have foot surgery, out for rest of season

September 16th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Angels superstar ’s 2019 season is over.

The center fielder will undergo surgery on his right foot to remove the Morton's neuroma he's been dealing with for about a month, the Angels announced Sunday. Trout, an eight-time All-Star and two-time American League MVP, hadn’t been in the starting lineup since Sept. 6 but was hopeful to return Friday, only to say Saturday that the plan was to return Sunday. After testing out the foot by running before Sunday’s game against the Rays at Angel Stadium, the decision was made to undergo the season-ending procedure.

"I kind of knew when I first got my MRI a few weeks ago that I would probably need surgery at the end of the year to get it removed, but it just got worse," Trout said. "We tried everything. The training staff's been awesome. They put in all the time to try to get it right. Sometimes, it'd feel good. Some days, once it would flare up, it was tough to walk. It sucks."

Trout underwent a cryoablation procedure on his foot on Monday, which essentially used extreme cold to deaden the tissue around the affected nerve. But Trout still felt discomfort when he tried to run on Friday and Sunday. The upcoming procedure removes the nerve so that it won’t be an issue going forward. Trout will have it at some point next week and it carries a recovery time of roughly two weeks.

“He definitely wants to play,” Ausmus said. “Even going back to less than 24 hours, he felt like [Sunday] might be the day. But I think when he woke up this morning and came out here and tested it, he realized it’s not a pain he can deal with. He performed at a very high level, and I think he understands that at this point, forcing himself on the field with a neuroma in his foot wouldn’t be productive.”

The injury could have an interesting effect on Trout’s candidacy for his third AL MVP Award. He’s been considered the frontrunner throughout the season but now other candidates, such as Houston’s Alex Bregman, could emerge.

Trout, 28, finishes his season with a .291/.438/.645 slash line, a career-high 45 home runs, 104 RBIs and 110 runs scored in 134 games. He entered Sunday leading the AL in homers, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Trout also is the leader in Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. Trout has 8.6 WAR to Bregman's 7.3, per Fangraphs, and 8.3 WAR to Bregman's 7.4, per Baseball Reference.

“I don’t need to make a case for him,” Ausmus said. “The case is made.”

Trout, who was actively monitoring the home run chase when he was healthy, said winning the MVP is a goal of his every season. He’s finished in the top two in AL MVP Award balloting in six of the past seven seasons, finishing fourth in 2017, when he played in a career-low 114 games.

"It's always my mindset coming into the year,” Trout said. “I want to be the best player in the league. Ever since I was a kid, that's always been the mindset. Be the best in the field at all times. Thinking about being done when you have two weeks left is tough. I felt like I was having one of my best seasons."

Trout, though, won’t be able to reach 50 homers or surpass Troy Glaus’ club record of 47 round-trippers set in 2000. Trout has also never led the AL in homers but has just one more than Kansas City's Jorge Soler.

“I’d rather have him playing. I’d rather have him chasing that,” Ausmus said. “But at this point, I don’t know if that would be productive or if that would have helped him in the pursuit of either. I’d much rather see him in there. I know he’d rather be in there. I think it’s something that he can’t play with.”

Trout is the third key player to be shut down for the season by the Angels this week, joining , who underwent left knee surgery on Friday, and , who was diagnosed with right patellar tendinitis. With Trout out, is expected to take over in center field, with and splitting time in left.

“These guys have a job to do,” Ausmus said. “There’s opportunity for other players. They can take advantage of the opportunities or let it go by the wayside. It’s very much in their interest to take advantage.”

It’s been part of a difficult year for the Angels and Trout on an emotional level as well, dealing with the death of teammate Tyler Skaggs in Texas on July 1. Trout and Skaggs were drafted by the Angels in 2009 and were close friends, and Trout’s teammates leaned heavily on him for his leadership after the tragedy.

"It's been one of my craziest [seasons], for sure,” Trout said. “Tyler passing, it's been tough for the team emotionally. We've been through a lot. It was just a tough year for us."