Trout 'extremely excited' to head to Classic, face Angels teammates

March 6th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels superstar went 0-for-2 as designated hitter in a 6-0 win against the Guardians on Monday in his final Cactus League game before departing to train with Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

Trout, who is serving as the captain for Team USA, batted .286 (4-for-14) with two doubles and two RBIs in six games this spring to get ready for the Classic. He also played seven innings in center field on Sunday before serving as DH on Monday, and said he feels like he’s ready to play in full games for Team USA.

“I'm extremely excited to get going,” Trout said. “Just getting ramped up playing seven innings and getting four at-bats in a game yesterday. My body feels great."

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 10-time All-Star, is scheduled to play with Team USA on Wednesday night against the Giants in Scottsdale before the Angels host Team USA on Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. It’ll give Trout a chance to face his teammates, with lefty Tyler Anderson set to start for the Angels. Trout said he expects to DH on Wednesday but start in center on Thursday.

“I'm looking forward to it,” Trout said. “It's gonna be weird. A lot of people are like, 'Are you gonna come here and get changed [in the Angels’ clubhouse]?’ I don't know. But I'm looking forward to it. It's pretty cool.”

After the exhibition games against the Giants and Angels, Team USA begins World Baseball Classic play on Saturday against Team Great Britain at Chase Field in Phoenix. They then play Team Mexico on Sunday, Team Canada on Monday and Team Colombia on Wednesday.

If Team USA advances out of Pool C, as expected, they would play the quarterfinals at Miami’s loanDepot park, where the semifinals and final will also take place. Trout could be away from the club as late as March 22 if Team USA advances to the final, which will be held on March 21.

“We have a great group, it's kind of like an All-Star Game,” Trout said. “It'll be pretty cool to get to know everybody, guys you don’t get to play with, spend time with them and get to know to them. I hear nothing but great things about the whole tournament. It's going to be special. We gotta go out there and just have some fun. We got a pretty good team. But there's a lot of great countries out there and we'll see how it goes.”

Canning sharp in return to mound
After missing the 2022 season with a back injury, right-hander made his spring debut against the Guardians on Monday, throwing two scoreless innings. He struck out two, allowed two singles and induced a double-play grounder in the second inning.

It was Canning’s first start with the Angels since July 2, 2021, and his first with the organization since July 8, 2021, with Triple-A Salt Lake. He was shut down that season with right elbow inflammation and then missed all of 2022, including Spring Training, with a lower back stress fracture.

“It had been almost two years since I’d been in a game, so really, it was just about getting out there and getting comfortable on the mound and getting into a game setting,” Canning said. “I felt good. I wasn’t as sharp was I wanted to be with a few pitches, but it was more about getting out there and getting comfortable.”

Canning, 26, has had some success in the Majors, posting a career 4.73 ERA with 214 strikeouts in 209 1/3 innings in parts of three seasons with the club from 2019-21. He’s competing for the sixth spot in the rotation with several other candidates, including Tucker Davidson, Chase Silseth, Jaime Barría and Chris Rodriguez. If Canning doesn’t win the job, he’d head to Triple-A to give the Angels depth.

Canning said he believes he has a routine that can keep him healthy in 2023, as he’s incorporated different ways to keep his back strong, including Pilates and soft tissue work. He added the toughest part about missing time with the injury wasn’t the physical part of it.

“Just mentally,” Canning said. “Pilates was something new that I hadn't done yet, so that kind of kept me going. But it was a good thing for me to be around the team last year at least, so coming back into the clubhouse to be a part of things wasn't completely foreign. But just finding that kind of stuff outside of baseball to keep me busy.”