MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Trout typically earns recognition for what he tangibly accomplishes. On Monday, he commanded attention for what he potentially represents.
Reporters streamed to Trout as if he held the key to life. In a way, what he possessed -- or was thought to possess by interrogators -- was just as important, at least to baseball fans.
Trout was asked whether he thought he could succeed Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as "the face of the game." Indeed, in the midst of his third consecutive superb season at age 22 and having established a strong base of popularity, Trout would seem to be a leading candidate to inherit this unofficial yet very real distinction from Jeter, who will retire after this season.
Trout wisely skirted this question as deftly as he could. Answering "yes" might seem boastful. Responding "no" might sound dismissive.
"I'm just going to keep playing the way I've been playing," said Trout, the Angels megastar who takes a .310 batting average, 22 home runs and 73 RBIs into Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field.
Perhaps symbolically, Trout will bat second for the American League -- immediately following Jeter, the leadoff man.
"Just to be part of the same lineup and same clubhouse as him is going to be special for me," Trout said. "It's going to be something to remember, to be a part of it and experience it firsthand."
That's because Trout, like most big leaguers, maintains unqualified admiration for Jeter. Like Jeter, Trout played shortstop and wore No. 2 at Millville (N.J.) Senior High School and didn't switch to outfield until his senior year.
Trout was primarily a Phillies fan, "but I liked the way Jeter played," he said. "The way he carries himself on the field, he's a true professional."
This will be Trout's third All-Star Game in as many full seasons. He continues to cherish the midsummer experience.
"All-Star Games are for taking in the moment," he said.
Given the focus on Jeter, this one will be no exception.
As a fellow shortstop, Erick Aybar, the Angels' other All-Star representative, is particularly appreciative of Jeter's place in the game. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Aybar had no shortage of baseball role models. But Jeter stood out as a player to emulate.
"He's a great guy on the field and a great guy off the field," Aybar said. "When you see a guy like him, you want to be like him."