ANAHEIM -- Michael Trout returned to the Angels' starting lineup on Wednesday after missing two games due to neck stiffness. Trout started in center field and batted second as the Halos aimed to complete a sweep of the A's at Angel Stadium.He didn't waste any time in making an impact,
ANAHEIM -- Michael Trout returned to the Angels' starting lineup on Wednesday after missing two games due to neck stiffness. Trout started in center field and batted second as the Halos aimed to complete a sweep of the A's at Angel Stadium.
He didn't waste any time in making an impact, as Trout connected for a 444-foot home run in the first inning, his 27th long ball of the season. It was also his second-longest homer of the season.
"He's ready to go," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's good. We're excited to get him back in there."
Trout last appeared in a game on Sunday.
Andrelton Simmons, meanwhile, received a rare day off on Wednesday, with Cliff Pennington starting at shortstop in his place. Simmons had not rested since June 28, starting 50 consecutive games over that stretch. He has missed only three of the Angels' 134 games this season.
Escobar nearing return
Yunel Escobar (right oblique strain) went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts while playing five innings at third base in his first rehab game with Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Tuesday. He was expected to play another rehab game on Wednesday before being activated off the disabled list on Friday.
When Escobar returns, he is expected to reclaim his starting job at third, which will force Scioscia to make some tough lineup decisions regarding C.J. Cron and Luis Valbuena. The Angels have been able to start Cron at first base and Valbuena at third over the last few weeks, but the two infielders will have to split time at first again when Escobar returns.
"I think that depth in our lineup will get even deeper when Yunel comes back," Scioscia said. "He's a guy that definitely knows his way around the batter's box. It'll be a plus to get him back there and get somebody else at-bats at first base and somebody off the bench that is swinging the bat well. That's not a bad thing."
Since Escobar's injury, the left-handed-hitting Valbuena is batting .260 with a 1.033 OPS, six home runs and 15 RBIs in 17 games. Cron has also heated up over that stretch, hitting .310 with a .999 OPS, six homers and 14 RBIs in 20 games. He launched a pair of home runs against the A's on Tuesday and said afterward that felt he had benefited from playing on a more regular basis.
"Just the peace of mind coming to the field and knowing I'm playing," Cron said. "Not worrying about anything but baseball makes it a lot easier."
• Right-hander Garrett Richards was slated to throw three innings in his first rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday. Richards has been out since April 5 with an irritated nerve in his right biceps.
• The Rangers announced Wednesday that they will donate 10 percent of the revenue from this weekend's series with the Angels at Globe Life Park to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Friday's series opener in Arlington will mark the first baseball game played in Texas since the devastating hurricane.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.