ARLINGTON -- Angels superstar Mike Trout has yet to return to center field since sustaining a right groin strain on April 9. He started at designated hitter for the third straight game against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Trout said he’s been making progress with the injury, but that it’s not completely healed, so the Angels are being cautious and keeping him at DH for now.
“I feel better,” Trout said. “Still a little achy. Obviously, I want to play center field, but just day by day. If I come here and I feel good and I think I can play center field, I play center field. That’s where I’m at right now.”
Trout did take fly balls in center to test his groin before Tuesday’s game, but said he can still feel the injury when he makes cuts while running.
“I took some fly balls in the outfield yesterday and just got achy a little bit after,” Trout said. “It doesn’t really bother me, obviously, when I run straight, but it’s gotten a lot better than it did. Like I said I’m just happy to be in the lineup. Obviously I want to play center field. But that’s going to be the approach every day.”
Trout was tested in the game Wednesday as well, as he beat out an infield single in the sixth inning. Trout reached 30.6 feet per second on his way to first, which is above his average of 29.2 feet per second last year, per Statcast. Anything above 30 feet per second is considered elite.
Trout said he was pleased with how quickly he got down the line, but said running in a straight line isn’t the issue right now.
“I mean, right now I just want to be in the lineup,” Trout said. “I think just being out there and being able to contribute, as opposed to sitting on the bench, is better than nothing. But it’s getting better every day, it’s not getting worse. That’s the big thing. My mindset is to play center field tomorrow; if I come in and it still bothers me we’ll see how it goes.”
Sunday’s starter TBD
The Angels have yet to list a starter for Sunday, as they haven’t determined whether right-hander Jaime Barria will get another start after allowing four runs in five-plus innings against the Rangers on Tuesday. Barria, though, remains the most likely candidate with Chris Stratton starting the series opener on Thursday, Felix Pena getting the nod on Friday and Trevor Cahill taking the mound on Saturday.
Barria, 22, has posted a 5.87 ERA with six strikeouts, two walks and a homer allowed in 7 2/3 innings this season. As a rookie last season, he compiled a 3.41 ERA with 98 strikeouts, 47 walks and 17 homers surrendered in 129 1/3 innings.