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OC Register: Albert Pujols’ experience make him a valuable sounding board


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ANAHEIM — There’s no substituting experience and scant few people are capable of relating to Mike Trout’s situation.

So it was helpful, Manager Brad Ausmus suggested, that Angels teammate Albert Pujols is one of those ballplayers with the background to appreciate Trout’s circumstances.

“Albert has a lot of experience including experience with contract negotiations,” Ausmus said Sunday, before the celebratory public press conference and Dodgers game at Angel Stadium. “You can’t lose sight of the fact that Albert was Mike Trout back in 2002-03. He was the most feared hitter in the game.”

Trout, of course, last week agreed to a historic 12-year, $426.5-million contract that presumably will keep the two-time MVP in an Angels uniform for the rest of his career.

Recall, back in 2012, Pujols signed what was then a historic 10-year, $240 million deal as a free agent

“Trouty, he has great respect for Albert,” Ausmus said. “I’m sure he bounced things off of Albert, and Albert was an excellent board.”

Entering spring training’s Freeway Series opener, Trout was 12 for 41 (.293) with three home runs and a team-leading 11 RBIs in the Cactus League in Arizona.

OHTANI TO STAY WITH ANGELS

As he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, Shohei Ohtani will stay with the Angels when the season begins Thursday, said Ausmus, who also reported that Ohtani’s activity for the day included cardio work.

“He was on the elliptical trainer when I saw him, so he was doing a little cardio workout,” Ausmus said.

Otherwise, the Angels’ first-year manager said he didn’t foresee Ohtani heading to Arizona to rehab: “Right now, he’s gonna stay with us.

Ohtani is awaiting the go-ahead to get on the field for batting practice, the next step on his road back following surgery on Oct. 1

Last season’s American League Rookie of the Year has taken batting practice in the cage five times this spring and previously was hitting soft toss and off a tee for several weeks while maintaining his three-times-a-week throwing schedule this week — with a throw day scheduled for Monday, Ausmus said.

The Angels are targeting a May return for Ohtani as a designated hitter — the two-way sensation won’t be available to pitch again until 2020.

On Friday, Ohtani shared his eagerness to return, telling reporters through his interpreter: “I feel like I’m ready…  I am eager to keep moving to the next step.”

FLETCHER OUT OF LINEUP, UPTON EXITS

After David Fletcher was scratched from Saturday’s game because of a tight hamstring, the infielder also was left out of the starting lineup Sunday. But Ausmus said there was no cause for concern

“He’s fine,” Ausmus said. “It’s still spring training, he’s fine.

Justin Upton ran into the left-field wall chasing after Max Muncy’s two-out double in the first inning, and then left the exhibition game with the Angels’ trainers. It didn’t appear to be a serious injury.

Upton missed almost the entire spring with knee tendinitis before playing his first Cactus League game of the spring March 19.

BEST OF THE BEST

In one of a flurry of interviews Trout did Sunday afternoon, he explained to MLB Network that “anything I do, I try to be the best at.”

He’s got baseball in the bag.

Ping pong, however…

“He’s a very mediocre ping pong player,” Ausmus revealed. “He probably could beat me, but he didn’t make it very far in the tournament (during spring training).”

 

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