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Not surprisingly, Trout center of attention in KC
Not surprisingly, Trout center of attention in KC
By Alden Gonzalez
KANSAS CITY -- Two years ago, Angels slugger Mark Trumbo had hardly even heard of Mike Trout. Then he watched him play during the spring of 2010 and quickly realized he was just, well, different.
"I watched him stretch a routine single into a double," Trumbo said. "He hit it to center and I was watching him. I saw the short swing and was impressed with that. And he ran right in the guy's face. It was an intrasquad game, and normally guys would be more than content with [a single]. Next thing I know this guy's taking two. I'm like, 'Wow.'"
It's an expression used around Trout a lot this season, when he leads the American League in batting average and stolen bases despite being 20 years old and spending the first three weeks of the season in the Minor Leagues.
The Angels are well represented amid the All-Star Game festivities. They have ace Jered Weaver, who's appearing in his third straight and posted first-half numbers that almost made him a starter for a second straight year. They have the newly signed C.J. Wilson, who -- before backing out due to a blister in his pitching hand -- was set to suit up for an AL squad that's managed by his former skipper in Texas, Ron Washington. And they have Trumbo, who's having a tremendous season and was hand-picked for the State Farm Home Run Derby.
But it was Trout who soaked up the vast majority of the attention during Monday's media session. No surprise there.
"It's pretty surreal right now, thinking about it," said Trout, who brought his parents, brother and high school coaches with him. "I'm actually really thinking about it now. During the year, I don't really think about this stuff. But now I got a little break, and being here is pretty incredible."
"I don't think he's taken the smile off his face the whole time," Weaver observed from two tables over. "He's excited, and it's fun to watch him go through this."
Tonight's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 4:30 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage, with MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also providing comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Trout is the seventh-youngest position player in AL history -- though only second-youngest at this year's event, behind 19-year-old Nationals phenom Bryce Harper.
Trout, the leadoff-hitting center fielder, forced his way here with a .341 batting average, .397 on-base percentage, 26 steals and 12 homers since an April 28 callup that practically saved the Angels' season.
American League lineup
1. Derek Jeter, NYY
2. Robinson Cano, NYY
3. Josh Hamilton, TEX
4. Jose Bautista, TOR
5. Prince Fielder, DET
6. Adrian Beltre, TEX
7. David Ortiz, BOS
8. Mike Napoli, TEX
9. Curtis Granderson, NYY
Justin Verlander, DET
"It goes without saying he's talented, but I always look at how people play as opposed to the results," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Trout's boyhood idol growing up in New Jersey. "It seems like he plays hard all the time."
And then there's all the cool stuff he does.
Like when he hit a triple on a liner down the left-field line, with no misplay, in San Diego.
Or when he scored from first base on a simple base hit to right field by Albert Pujols in Toronto.
Or when he hit a home run into the streets of downtown Cleveland.
Or when he reached on a bunt single by running from home to first in a ridiculous 3.53 seconds.
"He's so fast, it's crazy, because he's so big," Wilson said. "People don't understand how built he is. He's got the running-back body -- the Bo Jackson body, almost. He's over 225 pounds, and he's got five or six percent body fat. He motors."
And then, of course, there was that one play in Baltimore, when Trout raced to the right-center-field fence, catapulted off the rubberized track and robbed J.J. Hardy of a home run by extending his left arm about five feet over the wall.
That was Weaver's favorite. He was, after all, on the mound at that time.
"Torii's made quite a few grabs for me," Weaver said, referring to nine-time Gold Glove outfielder Torii Hunter. "None better than Trout's. It was one of those things where I didn't think he had a chance. He had a beat on it, he kept running, but it seemed like the ball kept carrying up in the air. For him to bring that down was pretty fun to watch."
Leading in, Trout's teammates gave him some advice on how to handle all the media attention he'd predictably garner. Wilson told him not to repeat himself too often or say "uh," Weaver told him what to wear and Trumbo -- also young, but still six years his senior -- has been shadowing him for most of the season.
But Trout, in case you hadn't noticed, doesn't need much help.
"Look, Mike, he's confident, he's composed, he plays the game the right way, he does everything right," Wilson said. "So there's really no fault in his personality or anything else."
"He's just very personable," Trumbo added. "He's a real fun-loving guy. He takes this seriously, but not too seriously. And I think he's got the perfect makeup to handle the amount of attention that he's gotten so far. He's incredibly humble. He doesn't have to tell anybody how good he is. It's obvious."