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OC Register: Angels’ Mike Trout reflects on Shohei Ohtani, World Baseball Classic


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LOS ANGELES – Not long after the strikeout heard ’round the world, Mike Trout began solidifying his goals for the 2023 season.

The sights, sounds and emotions of high-stakes baseball were still fresh, when Trout pulled his phone from his back pocket late Tuesday night and reached out to Angels manager Phil Nevin.

Earlier that evening in Miami, Trout faced off against teammate Shohei Ohtani in an at-bat that captivated all of baseball. Runner on base, down a run, Trout had a chance to be a hero for Team USA, but Ohtani won the duel with a strikeout, giving Japan the World Baseball Classic title.

“As soon as it was over, on the bus heading back, I texted (Nevin) and said, ‘I needed this. I needed to play in this atmosphere. I needed to experience it and be in the moment,’” Trout said Sunday from the first-base dugout at Dodger Stadium. “It made me feel and think how bad we want to get back to the playoffs.

“Obviously we did it in (2014), but that atmosphere as a baseball player, as a competitor, that’s where you want to play. You want to be in that moment. It was just a special few days.”

Trout and Ohtani were together Sunday for the first time since that moment.

“Yeah, I gave him a hug,” Trout said. “He’s a special talent. He’s got great stuff. He had an unbelievable tournament. They just beat us.”

Now the dynamic duo is unified in the hope of having similar experiences together in an Angels uniform.

When the Angels made it to the 2014 postseason, Trout’s Angels lost all three games they played against the Kansas City Royals. He had just one hit in 12 at-bats. Considered one of the best to ever play the game, Trout had not appeared in the playoffs until that moment and he hasn’t been back since.

The playoffs have always been Trout’s goal and this spring’s WBC only made him want it more.

“It was obvious that’s what everybody wanted to see,” Trout said of his showdown with Ohtani. “It was fun at-bat. He threw me a nasty 3-2 pitch. I missed some heaters before that. He’s a good pitcher, obviously.”

But Trout has known that all along. He didn’t need a breathtaking moment in a title-deciding at-bat to realize it.

“There was only one thing on my mind, trying to barrel a ball,” Trout said. “Obviously, with all of Shohei’s pitches, everything is moving every which way. He didn’t throw me a split that whole at-bat. That was in the back of my mind. And then he threw me a nasty slider 3-2.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted it to turn out but it was a fun battle. We’re both competing up there and that was my first time, obviously, seeing him.

Told of Trout’s heightened desire to return to the playoffs, Nevin said the micro view will take care of the macro desires.

“We come out and take care of our business every day, things will fall into the right places,” Nevin said. “I’ve been asked the questions all the time. Is this the year? Do we have to? Is there a sense of urgency? I think any time when you have a roster like ours and you have expectations within our room like we do, every day is a sense of urgency.

“If we don’t, then I think we’re doing your teammates a sense of injustice, the fans, the organization. So every day, to me, is a sense of urgency because we understand what’s ahead of us.”

To get there, the Angels will have to buck a long run of substandard play. They have a losing record in seven consecutive seasons and eight seasons without seeing postseason play.

Trout and Ohtani might have four MVPs between them but sharing the field in October has priority. With Ohtani moving into free agency following the season, there might not be a better time to get to the playoffs than now.

“Every time you start a season, anything less than the playoffs is a disappointment,” Trout said. “There ain’t any way else to look at it. If you don’t make the playoffs it’s a disappointment for sure.

STASSI SETBACK

Away from the club for personal reasons, catcher Max Stassi returned to Arizona and played in a minor league game Sunday before he departed with hip soreness.

Although the injury was not deemed serious, all signs point to Stassi opening the season on the injured list. If the Angels make the IL move, it would allow top prospect Logan O’Hoppe to make the club.

“(Stassi) felt like it was important to get back and try to ramp up a little bit and unfortunately, he had a little hip thing today,” Nevin said.

ONE MORE DAY

Infielder David Fletcher underwent treatment for a groin injury early Sunday in Anaheim and was not on hand for Sunday’s game. Nevin said Fletcher will undergo treatment again and could play in Monday’s game against the Dodgers.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon also was not on hand Sunday. Nevin said Rendon’s daughter broke her arm in an accident at home and he told his veteran to remain with his family.

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38 minutes ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Infielder David Fletcher underwent treatment for a groin injury early Sunday in Anaheim and was not on hand for Sunday’s game. Nevin said Fletcher will undergo treatment again and could play in Monday’s game against the Dodgers.

I thought it was an abdominal issue?

Unless it's a misprint? (I clicked the link to the full article to get the most up-to-date version)

Edited by Trendon
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Good article   My beef with Scoccia is "my" perception that his clubs did not have "enough" of a sense of urgency.  Mostly just gave lip service.  Scosh would  downplay a bad loss and say "its a long season". 

The Angels last year seemed to play harder in the second half, even when they were out of playoff contention, they did not tank.

Auggie would stress to his clubs to win every at bat, win every inning, win every series.   I think that is the mentality that we see with the 2023 club.

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