CINCINNATI -- It's easy to forget -- with all the accolades, attention and awards he's accumulated in such a short amount of time -- that Opening Day really means something to Mike Trout.
He's only 21, coming off his rookie season, and on Monday afternoon, when introduced as the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Angels at Great American Ball Park, he experienced one for the first time.
"It's a feeling you really can't explain," Trout said in the visiting clubhouse a few hours before game time. "Just sitting here, watching TV and everything, seeing all the Opening Days and stuff going on -- it makes you feel good inside. Every so often, you think about it and start getting chills. It's a pretty cool feeling."
Cincinnati, home to the first Interleague game to start a season and still an Opening Day mecca, is a legit plane flight away from Trout's roots in South Jersey, so he only had about 10 members of his family in attendance on Monday -- which pales greatly in comparison to the droves that came out to Baltimore and New York last season.
But they'll all be watching in Millville, N.J. And if they can't, a local radio station, WSNJ-AM 1240, reached an agreement with KLAA-AM to rebroadcast their feed from Anaheim for all 162 Angels games this season.
"I got a lot of text messages from people, wishing me luck and all that stuff," Trout said. "It's going to be a good night for me and my family, and the team."
Trout didn't have an Opening Day last year. Heck, he hardly had a first month. A nasty flu and shoulder tendinitis robbed him of a Spring Training, and the Angels' glut of outfielders made it an easy decision to send Trout to Triple-A for almost all of April.
That didn't stop Trout from having a memorable year, with a .326 batting average, 49 steals, 30 homers, a 10.9 wins above replacement score and an American League Rookie of the Year Award.
But it robbed him of this experience.
"Coming to the field today, seeing all the fans outside with the parade and everything, they have a great atmosphere here," Trout said. "It's going to be fun."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less