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Trout returns to CF in style with 24th homer

Angels slugger provides strong defense in win over O's
Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Angels slugger Mike Trout was back in center field in Friday night's 7-1 win over the Orioles, after a sprained right index finger forced him into a career-long nine-game stint as a designated hitter.

But before he even took the field, Trout launched his 24th home run of the season, sending a 2-0 pitch from O's starter David Hess over the wall in left-center in the first inning at Camden Yards.

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BALTIMORE -- Angels slugger Mike Trout was back in center field in Friday night's 7-1 win over the Orioles, after a sprained right index finger forced him into a career-long nine-game stint as a designated hitter.

But before he even took the field, Trout launched his 24th home run of the season, sending a 2-0 pitch from O's starter David Hess over the wall in left-center in the first inning at Camden Yards.

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For Trout, the return to the field couldn't come soon enough.

"It's good for one or two days," he said. "But for 10 days, it was tough."

After clobbering his solo shot, Trout picked up in center field like he'd never left.

In the second inning, Trout turned a difficult play on Chris Davis' opposite-field liner into a routine catch in left-center. Two innings later, Trout's leaping catch at full stride robbed Danny Valencia of extra bases and almost certainly saved a run.

Video: LAA@BAL: Trout robs Valencia with a leaping catch

"I felt like all of these days off, my legs really felt well," said Trout, who came into this season with the focus of improving his already admirable defense.

"I'm getting there quicker," he added. "I think that's the biggest thing. I'm just trying to catch everything. That's my goal, I'm just trying to save runs. It's big for our pitching staff."

By his own lofty standards, Trout struggled slightly during his stretch at DH, batting .214 (6-for-28) with two RBIs and no extra-base hits. He still walked nine times and maintained a .421 on-base percentage over those nine games.

Video: LAA@BAL: Trout, Scioscia on the Angels' 7-1 victory

Manager Mike Scioscia said Trout handled his outfield reprieve patiently.

"He knew there were phases to go through," Scioscia said. "He wished he could've been playing center all week, but obviously he couldn't do that. This is the earliest he could get back and he's ready."

The 26-year-old Trout, a two-time winner of the American League MVP Award, is still on track for potentially his best season. He leads the Majors in walks (72) and on-base percentage (.462). His 24 homers and 1.110 OPS are on pace for career highs.

Worth noting
Shohei Ohtani took batting practice on Thursday and Friday, and he could face live pitching before the week is out, Scioscia said.

Ohtani took five or six rounds of BP similar to a standard Spring Training routine, said Scioscia, who wasn't sure of the exact number of swings.

Kole Calhoun went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly as he batted in the leadoff spot for the first time this season on Friday.

Video: LAA@BAL: Calhoun lifts a sacrifice fly to left field

Calhoun entered Friday with a career .277 average in the leadoff spot, including 11 games batting there last season.

Garrett Richards (left hamstring strain) is expected to throw roughly 60 pitches in his first rehab outing on Friday for Class A Advanced Inland Empire, or "enough to test the hamstring," Scioscia said. Jefry Marte (left wrist sprain) was expected to DH for Inland Empire in his first rehab game.

Ian Quillen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout