Trout honors Kobe with cleats, batting gloves

April 13th, 2016

OAKLAND -- Angels center fielder Mike Trout honored Kobe Bryant on Wednesday with special, custom-made cleats and batting gloves to commemorate the Los Angeles Lakers great prior to the final game of his NBA career.

Trout's usual custom-made Nikes were painted black and gold, while his standard batting gloves were black, purple and gold with Bryant's emblem on the index finger and his two jersey numbers -- 8 and 24 -- stitched below the palm. Trout couldn't wear the shoes during the 5-1 win over the A's because they aren't the Angels' official colors, but he was able to keep the batting gloves on.

Bryant, who lives in Orange County and has attended several Angels games, concludes his NBA career on Wednesday night with a matchup against the Utah Jazz from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Bryant -- who, like Trout, has a major endorsement deal with Nike -- is a future Hall of Famer and will retire as a five-time champion and the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

"When you turned on an NBA game, you wanted to watch Kobe," Trout said. "Just the excitement he brought to the game. He's a superstar, night in and night out. It sucks to see him leave, but obviously, he's doing what's right for him and his family. He's had a great career.

"It's crazy when you think that next year he's not going to be in uniform. It goes by quick."

Reliever's mindset:Hector Santiago lasted 7 2/3 innings on Tuesday, his longest start since joining the Angels and one out away from tying his career high, which was set with the White Sox in 2013. In 13 2/3 innings so far this season, Santiago has issued only three walks. Part of the reason for that is he no longer feels the need to use all five of his pitches. Against the A's, he didn't throw a single breaking ball after the start of the fourth.

He also is trying to re-establish the reliever's mentality he had while pitching in the back end of the White Sox bullpen early in his career, a mindset that allows him to attack hitters and generate weak early contact.

"Just straight-up attack," Santiago said. "One pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time. Just try to get through each inning as fast as you can."

Shifty alignments: The Angels are still shifting more than any other team in baseball, but their results haven't been favorable thus far. The Major League average on balls in play against shifts was .287 entering Wednesday, but against the Angels, it was .339. Manager Mike Scioscia noted the small sample size but also stated that the Angels' shifts will continue to evolve as they account for hitters' adjustments.

"What those sheets do not have built in them is a hitter's ability to adjust to them," Scioscia said. "They are not future projections. We've seen hitters who have the ability to augment their swings and have done it and been successful. That's what you are compiling now, to see what adjustments you have to make."

Late-game defense: Scioscia replaced second baseman Johnny Giavotella for Cliff Pennington late in Wednesday's win over the A's, as he's prone to do when his team has a late lead. But he did not replace first baseman C.J. Cron with Ji-Man Choi. Cron booted a grounder to his right side earlier in the game and also lost track of a foul popup, but Scioscia seemingly doesn't consider Choi enough of a defensive upgrade to take Cron's bat out of the lineup. Scioscia said he has "confidence that Cron is going to be fine late in games."

Radinsky hospitalized: Bullpen coach Scott Radinsky did not join the Angels on the team flight to Minnesota and was instead taken to a local hospital to undergo testing for an undisclosed medical condition. The Angels had no further comment.