How did Angels attack Trout? Pitch him 'outside, way outside'

March 9th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When signed his 12-year, $426.5 million contract before the 2019 season, his intention was to play for the Angels his entire career and to never have to play against the organization that drafted him in '09, for which he is under contract through '30.

But in a fun twist, Trout played for a different team against the Angels on Thursday, as the superstar suited up for Team USA in a 6-0 exhibition game loss at Tempe Diablo Stadium to get ready for the World Baseball Classic. Trout, sporting a navy blue USA jersey instead of his customary Angels red, went 0-for-2 with a walk and called it a fun experience.

“I was just trying to have good at-bats, just get ready for this thing, but it's pretty cool to face your own team,” Trout said. “Obviously, seeing the guys you play with and now you’re playing against them. So it was pretty cool.”

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 10-time All-Star, is the captain for Team USA, which features a star-studded lineup with All-Stars at every position. It’s the first time Trout is participating in the WBC -- he felt like he missed out by not playing in the last Classic in 2017, which was won by the U.S.

“Watching it on TV six years ago, I felt like I wanted to be out there and just experience how much fun they were having,” Trout said. “And so I told myself if I ever got the opportunity, I was going to try to do it. It’s special for me and my family to wear Team USA across my chest.”

Before the game, Angels manager Phil Nevin was asked how his pitchers planned to pitch to Trout, and Nevin joked he instructed his pitchers to throw “outside, way outside.” But lefty , who started the game for the Halos, nearly hit Trout with his second pitch in the first inning, buzzing him with a fastball up and in.

“I threw him that pitch up and in and thought, ‘I probably shouldn’t do that,’” Anderson said with a wry smile. “It’s better to feed it over and let him do what he wants to do."

Trout took it in stride, as he recovered and hit a deep fly ball to left field that was caught near the warning track by . But he also joked about that near-hit-by-pitch from Anderson.

“That second pitch was up and in, and then everybody started chirping,” Trout said with a laugh. “And then I just missed one.”

Trout also came up to the plate with runners at the corners and nobody out in the third, but he flied out to shallow center. He walked in his final plate appearance in the top of the fourth against lefty . Trout was lifted for pinch-runner and received a loud ovation from the crowd as he left the game. Adams was one of four Angels prospects who got to suit up for Team USA, along with , and .

“It’s pretty exciting,” Trout said. “I talked to Neto last night on the phone. He was super pumped. It's a good experience for those guys. They get to wear Team USA on their chest and be in the dugout with all those guys. I’m sure it’s pretty special for them.”

It was the second exhibition game for Trout with Team USA, as he also went 0-for-2 against the Giants on Wednesday night.

Team USA opens World Baseball Classic play on Saturday night against Great Britain at Chase Field in Phoenix. They then play Team Mexico on Sunday (with Angels lefty set to start for Mexico), Team Canada on Monday and Team Colombia on Wednesday.

“There are some big games coming up,” Trout said. “The Mexico game on Sunday is going to be electric. I heard it’s sold out. I’m really looking forward to it and the whole group is excited. We got a great group. The chemistry is unbelievable.”

If Team USA advances out of Pool C, as expected, it will head to Florida, as the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are being held at Miami’s loanDepot park. The title game is set for March 21.

Team USA is looking to repeat as champions after winning the Classic in 2017, and Trout believes the talent and commitment of the team could lead it to victory again.

“Everyone is buying in,” Trout said. “No one was begged to come on this team. Everyone wanted to commit and represent our country the right way.”