ANAHEIM -- Angels superstar Mike Trout acknowledged that the 2021 season was the most frustrating of his career because of a season-ending right calf strain suffered on May 17, but he said he’s in a better place mentally after deciding to shut it down for the season a few weeks ago.
Trout, a nine-time All-Star and the American League MVP Award winner in 2014, ’15 and ’19, spoke to the media on Saturday for the first time since the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa., on Aug. 22. At that point, Trout was still hopeful to return from his injury, but it never quite healed as expected. Trout would test his calf with running drills, but he couldn’t shake the soreness the day after his workouts.
"I feel like I'm in a great place,” Trout said. “I think mid-August was the toughest month in my career, just mentally and physically. It wears on you. There's a lot of people who respect you and want you out there, and that's in the back of your mind -- my family, my kid, my teammates, the Angels fans. But my body wasn't allowing it. It's been a grind and it's been tough for me. But now I look back, I learned from everything.”
Trout called it an emotional decision to shut it down for the season after playing in just 36 games this year. But after talking with the training staff and Angels management earlier this month, he decided it would be best for his future. He believes he might’ve been able to return in a limited role if the Angels were in contention, but with them out of the race, the risk of reinjuring the calf heading into the offseason wasn’t worth it.
“My mind and what I wanted was telling me one thing and my body was telling me something else,” Trout said. “I was feeling really good in workouts and then it would get sore on me. It's been a tough September for me. If we were in the race, it might be different and maybe I could play through it. But it got to the point where I needed a rehab assignment and had two weeks left and just looking at the bigger picture, it was smarter to get it right and get ready for Spring Training."
Trout said he anticipates having a normal offseason and that he’s already started training to get ready for next year because he doesn’t need as much time off this offseason to recover from playing in games. He’ll be heading into his 12th season and remains under contract with the Angels through 2030.
"I've taken about two weeks off, and it's feeling a lot better,” Trout said. “It's almost 100 percent, if not 100 percent. I'm looking forward to having a healthy offseason. Keep that same routine."
Trout, though, acknowledged it’ll be an important offseason for the front office and general manager Perry Minasian, as the Angels are one loss away from their sixth straight losing season and haven’t been to the postseason since 2014. Trout said injuries played a key role in the club’s struggles this year, as fellow star Anthony Rendon was limited to just 58 games because of a hip injury that required surgery, but Trout knows that more talent must be added to the roster.
"This offseason is going to be big,” Trout said. “We have a lot of money to spend. Hopefully we go out there, get some good guys. I trust Perry, I trust the top guys in this organization. We talk every day. I'm very confident with the group up there. They're working hard every day. They're trying to put a winning team on the field."
Angels manager Joe Maddon has made it clear he’d like to acquire two top starting pitchers this offseason and agreed with Trout’s assertion that this winter will be a key one for the organization.
“We’re on the same page,” Maddon said. “This isn’t fun to watch other teams get ready to go to the playoffs. And he’s only been once. It’s no fun to do it this way. We have to come together with a good plan this offseason, so that next year at this time, we’re getting ready for the playoffs.”