Team USA captain prepares for World domination

January 24th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Superstar spoke with the media via Zoom on Friday and gave an update on his offseason, including his excitement to serve as captain for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Trout said he regretted not playing in the 2017 Classic -- which the United States won for the first time -- adding that it was always a goal of his to play for Team USA. He said he’s worked out most of the logistics for Spring Training, as he’ll report to camp on Feb. 15 and train with the Angels until March 7. He’ll then train with Team USA, which will host a camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., not far from the club’s facility in Tempe.

“I talked with [manager Phil] Nevin recently about the scheduling and everything,” Trout said. “I still don’t have like a complete schedule of my workouts, but the plan is to get ramped up before [training with Team USA].”

Trout, 31, also added that his back is just fine, after he missed more than a month between mid-July and mid-August with an injury last season. He showed no ill effects after returning, hitting .308/.379/.686 with 16 homers and 29 RBIs over his final 40 games. That included a stretch of homers in seven consecutive games in early September, which helped him reach 40 homers in just 119 games. 

Trout said it’s something he’ll continue to monitor, but that he’s been able to have a normal offseason and hasn’t had back pain for months. 

“Once the season was over, I didn’t really feel anything in my back,” Trout said. “It’s been a non-issue for four months. I felt it a little when I first got back, but I kept on top of it pretty well. Just have to keep the same routine in the weight room, and warm up, and make sure all the back muscles around it are strengthened.” 

Trout said he’s also excited with the moves the Angels have made this offseason in adding much-needed depth to the roster. Most recently, they signed outfielder Brett Phillips to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million and have also signed left-hander Tyler Andersoninfielder Brandon Drury and reliever Carlos Estévez to multiyear deals, while also trading for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infielder Gio Urshela.

Trout frequently communicates with general manager Perry Minasian throughout the offseason and likes what he’s been able to do this winter.

“I think Perry’s done a great job,” Trout said. “Just bringing in some pieces that we were missing last year.”

Trout also discussed the fun possibility of facing his superstar teammate Shohei Ohtani in the World Baseball Classic. Team Japan is in Pool B and Team USA is in Pool C, so the earliest they could meet up would be in the semifinals. But it’s something both talked about last season and would make for an epic matchup.

“We talked about it during the year last year, because I knew he was going to do it,” Trout said. “I get a front-row seat every time he pitches with us. It’s pretty nasty. Every person I talk to that faces him says they don’t want to be in the box. It’s going to be interesting. I’m looking forward to it. He’s one of my good friends, so it’s going to be fun.”