SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- For Michael Trout, conquering any mental hesitancy about facing live pitching was more consequential than any feelings of physical discomfort.Trout faced live pitching for the first time in five weeks Wednesday night on a rehabilitation assignment with the Inland Empire 66ers, the California League Class A
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- For Michael Trout, conquering any mental hesitancy about facing live pitching was more consequential than any feelings of physical discomfort.
Trout faced live pitching for the first time in five weeks Wednesday night on a rehabilitation assignment with the Inland Empire 66ers, the California League Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Serving as the designated hitter, Trout finished the evening hitless in three at-bats. He grounded out to second in the first inning, struck out in the third and flied out to center in the fifth inning.
"I feel great mentally and there was no problem physically," said Trout, who wore his red Angels helmet rather than the blue helmet of Inland Empire. "It didn't bother me and I felt good after the first at-bat."
Trout's biggest concern was that he had not faced live pitching in more than a month. The 6-foot-2 outfielder admitted some awkward feeling in his first at-bat. He said he thought about his thumb a little in his second at-bat, but had no worries by his final at-bat.
The fifth-inning fly ball to center briefly gave some fans hope to witness a Trout home run, but it quickly became apparent the hit was little more than a routine fly ball.
Trout's appearance drew a crowd of 3,618. 66ers assistant general manager Ryan English said this was probably double what might have been expected.
"Typically, there is a drop-off the day after the 4th of July when there is a fireworks show," English said. "We also didn't know that Trout was certain to play."
The two-time American League Most Valuable Player was off to what arguably might have been his best statistical season. Trout, who hit 16 home runs with a 1.203 OPS and a slash line of .337/.461/.742 before his injury, has missed 36 games. The Angles are 18-18 during that span.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia's original idea was that Trout would play about five or six games to regain his timing and test his thumb. The only thing certain now is that Trout will play on Thursday with Inland Empire.
"Tomorrow, maybe I will try playing the field," Trout said.
The Angels have an off-day on Thursday before starting a three-game series at Texas on Friday ahead of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
Trout may feel physically capable of playing, but then there would be the question about having Trout face Major League pitching with fewer than 10 plate appearances. The Angels would also have to make an immediate roster move Friday to put Trout back on the active roster rather than wait another week to make a move.
Trout suffered a torn UCL in his left thumb on May 28, and had surgery three days later. The injury occurred when he stole second base against the Miami Marlins.
"I have a guard to protect my thumb so I won't change the head-first slide," Trout said.
George Alfano is a contributor to MLB.com.