Angels hopeful Trout will not need IL stint

Superstar center fielder exits in fifth inning of loss to Astros with back spasms

July 13th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Just when it looked like things couldn't get much worse for the scuffling Angels, superstar Mike Trout left Tuesday night's 6-5 loss to the Astros in the fifth inning with back spasms, the club announced.

Trout, who went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, spoke with interim manager Phil Nevin in the dugout before he was removed from the game in the top of the fifth inning. He was replaced in center field by Monte Harrison. Nevin said the Angels are optimistic Trout will be able to avoid the injured list, as he was checked out by head athletic trainer Mike Frostad and early testing showed no structural damage.

"They ran some tests, but I don't know the specifics,” Nevin said. “I talked to Frosty and he said everything checked out all right. [Trout is] just sore and it kind of locked up on him. It's spasms. There's nothing structural in there. So when it calms down, he'll be back in there."

Trout, who was named a starting outfielder for the All-Star Game on Friday, has been mired in a slump in July, batting .167/.231/.250 with one homer and four RBIs in 10 games. He's struck out 18 times in 36 at-bats this month. But Trout is still having a strong season offensively, batting .270/.368/.599 with 24 RBIs and 51 RBIs in 79 games.

Nevin, though, noticed early in the game that Trout was dealing with discomfort in his back and decided to take him out of the game after he noticed Trout reaching for his back in the outfield after his second at-bat.

"It spasmed up on him,” Nevin said. “I didn't like the way he was moving around in center field. He was kind of stretching out there after that second at-bat. When we came off, I told him I was taking him out of the game. I didn't even ask him. I just made that call based on the way he was moving around and I know he was fighting it early."

It would be another major blow for the Angels if Trout misses time with his injury. Infielder Matt Duffy has also been bothered by back spasms and has been on the injured list since June 26. The offense also hasn’t been the same since Anthony Rendon underwent season-ending right wrist surgery in mid-June.

But Nevin said they believe Trout will just be day to day. He’s not expected to miss as much time as Duffy because his back spasms are in a different spot and not as severe.

"These things can be tricky,” Nevin said. “It's the upper back, which is the comforting thing."

If Trout does miss time, outfielder Jo Adell could be called up from Triple-A Salt Lake, as he’s been heating up at the plate.

Trout, 30, was limited to just 36 games last year because of a strained right calf suffered in mid-May. But he’s been mostly healthy this year, outside of being hit by a pitch on his left hand in mid-April and suffering left groin tightness in early June. He’s tied for third on the team in games played, behind only Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh.

In the sixth inning, Harrison made a costly error with two outs, when Jose Altuve singled to center with two runners on base. The single scored J.J. Matijevic from second but the ball got by Harrison, allowing Jake Meyers to score from first base.

That error loomed large when the Angels scored four runs in the seventh to tie the game with the Astros making two errors and allowing the game-tying run to score on a passed ball. But the Angels couldn’t quite complete the comeback, as they managed just two hits on the night -- both singles -- and closer Raisel Iglesias allowed the go-ahead run to score on an RBI double from Kyle Tucker in the ninth.

Iglesias showed diminished velocity, as his fastball averaged 93.4 mph, which was roughly 2 mph slower than his season average. Nevin noticed the decreased velocity, but said Iglesias isn't hurt.

“He’s fine and says he feels great, but I noticed it so it is a little bit of a concern,” Nevin said. “But Iggy is our guy. He’s my closer and he’s going to stay in that role.”