The Angels have struggled mightily on offense, heading into Wednesday's game against the Rays with the 21st-ranked OPS in baseball and just one home run in their last six games, while premier prospect Mike Trout has lit it up in Triple-A.
But manager Mike Scioscia says talk of Trout coming up, and forcing him into an everyday role the Angels would have to create, is still "a little premature."
"Obviously, if stuff continues to be stagnant, you're going to put more weight on some of those decisions," Scioscia said. "But right now, I think we're trying to find an identity to this team."
Trout missed the vast majority of Spring Training with a nasty viral infection and then shoulder tendinitis. But the 20-year-old, five-tool outfielder -- who came into the season as the third-ranked prospect in baseball by MLB.com -- has continued to surge in the Minors, putting up a .419/.483/.649 slash line through his first 19 games with the Salt Lake Bees.
"Obviously, when you're playing that well, you tend to push a door open for yourself," Scioscia said. "Right now, though, he's playing in Triple-A, he's playing well, and he's going to continue to until something changes."
The question is, what would have to change -- or, how long do the big league struggles have to continue before the Angels feel a need to pull the trigger?
All indications from Scioscia and the front office are that a move isn't imminent. One big obstacle is that an everyday role would have to be created. That would mean a critical player gets optioned (Peter Bourjos? Mark Trumbo?) or an expensive one gets released (Bobby Abreu? Vernon Wells?).
Trout struggled a bit through two stints in the big leagues last year, batting .220 in 40 games, but his Triple-A reports have been nothing but sparkling.
"Mike is not the finished product," Scioscia insisted. "He's still learning stuff down there by playing every day. His skills are where they need to be and he's very productive, and at some point, when there's a role that's significant, he's certainly going to be one of the guys considered. But right now, he's still applying himself down in Triple-A."
And right now, rather than make such a drastic move so early, the Angels prefer to give this much-hyped offense more time to find itself.
The track records suggest it will -- at some point.
"We need to see what these guys are going to do when they get into their game," Scioscia said. "It's not all one guy. ... There's a lot of guys that need to be more consistent out there, both on the offensive side and we talked about the bullpen. It's probably not a simple thing of Mike Trout coming up and being the answer right now. There's a lot of things on this team that I think we have to look at."