Angels superstar Mike Trout might be human, after all.
With Tropical Storm Laura heading toward Houston, the weather aficionado admitted that he has a fear of flying and might not fly home with the team on Wednesday. The series has already been adjusted, with Thursday’s game moved to Tuesday, causing a doubleheader that begins at 1:05 p.m. PT, and Wednesday’s game moved up to 10:10 a.m. Trout has already been in touch with meteorologists, including The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, about what to expect.
"I do not like turbulence, you can ask any of my fellow teammates,” Trout said. “I already told [Justin Upton], that if we play Wednesday, and there's a hurricane close, we're driving six hours west, and then we're flying out somewhere. I'm not taking off in a hurricane, I'll tell you that."
Angels manager Joe Maddon said there remains a chance that Wednesday’s game might not be played because of the incoming tropical storm and that the team could also decide to bus to a safer location to fly from, such as San Antonio or Austin. They also are working to figure out their pitching situation, as lefty José Suarez will start Game 1 on Tuesday but the rest is now to be announced.
"There's a chance there could be another audible called," Maddon said. "I'm certain that MLB is monitoring this closely and will make a good call on it."
Trout, a three-time American League MVP and eight-time All-Star, entered Monday's series opener batting .270/.342/.610 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in 25 games. Pitchers have been attacking him differently this year, as 48.1 percent of pitches he's seen have been in the strike zone, compared to 40.1 percent last season. Trout, though, said he doesn’t think he’s being pitched too much differently, despite Anthony Rendon hitting behind him.
"I haven't really noticed anything different,” Trout said. “My approach hasn't changed. Obviously having Anthony behind you guys can help. Even last year when I had [Shohei] Ohtani behind me, he's still a big-time hitter. Anthony this year has been unbelievable. So it's definitely a big, big help having a guy like that, being able to drive the ball and drive guys in. I saw the stat, I'm seeing more strikes. I'm just fighting my timing right now. Hopefully, I get my timing back and we'll see if they keep throwing strikes."
Another part of Trout’s game that he’s looking to improve is his defense in center field. Trout saw on Twitter that he’s struggled with jumps, per Statcast, and has made it a point to work on getting better jumps and reads in practice. He’s in the first percentile when it comes to outfield jumps, per Statcast.
“I literally just found out that,” Trout said. “I read it somewhere, I guess on social media, one of you guys posted it about my jumps. So I think the last few games I've been really pushing to get better first steps and it's been paying off. Made some better plays in Oakland, got some better reads. Just little stuff like that, you really don't realize it ‘til you see the numbers."
Maddon, however, said he doesn’t believe the defensive metrics that have painted Trout in a negative light this year. There’s also the issue of sample size in just 29 games played so far this season.
"I'm watching him all the time from the dugout," Maddon said. "And again, I still haven't seen him misplay things yet. I watched yesterday, watched him get preset and ready. That's what it really comes down to when you talk about first steps. It's really what you do before your first step. And then, once you activate, your first step is exactly how you maneuver with your foot. I still want to watch it further and more deeply, but I haven't really detected any heavy technical problem here."