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Trout compares return to Opening Day
Angels star goes 1-for-5, steals base in first game back from DL
By Kaelen Jones
ANAHEIM -- Forty-six days.
That's how long it's been since Mike Trout last suited up in an Angels uniform since sustaining a torn UCL in his left thumb Memorial Day weekend. But the reigning American League MVP finally returned to his club Friday, batted third and started in center field in the Angels' 10-inning, 2-1 loss to the Rays.
For Trout, the moment couldn't have come soon enough.
"Being away from the game, it was different for me," Trout said. "I wanted to be there."
He finished the evening 1-for-5 with a stolen base, and afterwards compared his feelings Friday to starting on Opening Day after an extended layoff.
"Some at-bats I felt good, some at-bats, I didn't. Just going to take a few more at-bats and get in a rhythm," he said.
Trout played four rehab games with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, making 15 plate appearances (2-for-9, four walks). Diligence in working toward a comeback from the injury forced him to watch the All-Star Game from home, despite being selected for the sixth time in his career. However, though tedious, he said the process has been quick.
"I'm extremely excited," Trout said. "Coming up to the ballpark and being able to see your name in the lineup, it makes you feel good."
That excitement translated to his play on the diamond. After notching a single in his second at-bat of Friday's game, he immediately took second base, diving headfirst - - the same manner that caused his injury and subsequent surgery.
"I'm not changing the way I play," he said. "I'm going to be aggressive, and I'm still going to steal bases and slide headfirst."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed, adding: "Mike's going to play baseball. That's what he's about."
Trout's restoration comes at a key point in the Angels' season. The Halos are 45-47 coming out of the All-Star break after going 19-20 without Trout, and entered Friday three games back of an American League Wild Card spot held by Tampa Bay.
"We're right there in the Wild Card," said Trout, "and we're just going to take it one game at a time."
Prior to landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career, Trout was on a career-best pace, slashing .337/.461/.742 with a team-leading 16 home runs. As for recapturing that form, Scioscia insists the slugger's comfort at the plate is paramount.
"There's always an adjustment period for anyone coming from a lengthy absence, but Mike feels good," Scioscia said. "He needs to get in there, see some velocity, see some pitches, see Major League pitching, and he'll make his adjustment."
"I feel 100 percent body-wise," Trout said. "Thumb feels great. I'm ready to get out there."
• Outfielder Eric Young Jr. was outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake after clearing waivers Thursday. Young, who joined the Angels on May 29 after Trout's injury, was waived to make room for Trout. Young slashed .260/.336/.396 in 34 games with the club this season.
• Left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez was recalled from Salt Lake and right-handed reliever Mike Morin was optioned there Friday.
• Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney started for the AZL Angels on Thursday.
The outing marked his first competitive appearance in 377 days, since undergoing surgery for a left elbow UCL injury that's sidelined him for the entire season, thus far. Heaney allowed three runs and struck out three batters across 1 2/3 innings, and is scheduled to pitch again this upcoming week, Scioscia said.
• Left-hander Tyler Skaggs is scheduled to pitch next week with the AZL Angels, according to Scioscia. Skaggs has been out since April 29 with a right oblique muscle strain.
• Scioscia said right-handed reliever Huston Street "has not picked up a ball yet" and the team will await further direction from its training staff in determining what the next step of his rehab will be. Street was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right adductor/groin strain on July 3.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.