Trout lands with personal, team goals in mind

February 18th, 2017

TEMPE, Ariz. -- may be a two-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner and a five-time All-Star, but he's still looking for ways to improve his game.

The Angels' star center fielder arrived to Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday ahead of the club's first full-squad workout and said that one of his goals this season is to steal 40 bases. It's a threshold he hasn't reached since stealing 49 as a rookie in 2012.

"I want to maybe try to get 40," Trout said. "It's just goals you can set. You work hard in spring. You set your goals high and see if you can reach them."

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Trout, 25, won his second career AL MVP Award last year after batting .315 with a .991 OPS, 29 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases over 159 games. He has now finished in the top two in the MVP race for five consecutive seasons, a nod to his reputation as the best player in baseball.

While Trout has been consistently excellent in his first five seasons with the Angels, the team has made just one playoff appearance over that span. That run ended with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals in the 2014 AL Division Series. In 2016, the Angels were decimated by injuries and finished fourth in the AL West with a 74-88 record.

"We want to win," Trout said. "It's not like we're going out there and trying not to win. The name of the game is staying healthy. When you have a bunch of pitchers go down, and guys in our lineup go down, we just couldn't put it all together. It's frustrating, for sure. You want to get to the playoffs."

Still, general manager Billy Eppler spent much of the offseason reshuffling the roster and building a solid cast of players around Trout in the hopes of putting the Angels back in position to contend. He acquired Danny Espinosa from the Nationals to play second base, from the Tigers to fill the vacancy in left field and from the Brewers to bolster defense behind the plate. He also signed infielder , outfielder and right-hander to free-agent contracts to improve the club's depth.

"I love Billy. He's great. He's just trying to do everything he can to help us improve," said Trout, who spent part of his morning introducing himself to his new teammates in the clubhouse. "Our mindset is to get to the playoffs and try to win a ring, obviously."

Trout said he was invited to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic but declined to participate for "personal" reasons. He intends to follow the United States throughout the tournament though, and said he might take part "down the road."

Trout also debuted a new haircut, trading his usual close-cropped look for a longer fauxhawk.

"Some of my teammates were complaining that I had the same buzz cut since third grade," Trout said. "When [Jered] Weaver was here, he has long hair, obviously, and a couple other guys were growing it out. I was like, 'Hey, maybe I should try it.' [Fiancée] Jess [Cox] liked it, so I decided to keep it."

But that change will be about as drastic as it gets for Trout.

"Mike hasn't changed a bit from the first day he stepped up here on a Major League field," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He probably hasn't changed since he was in high school. We have a lot of guys here who have to come together, and that's part of it. That's him being Mike."