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Angels’ Mike Trout misses the days when he stole bases

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Mike Trout finally has his stolen base.

“Can’t have a zero,” Trout said with a smile on Wednesday, two days after stealing his first base of the season. “I had to get one.”

The notion of the Angels’ star being so excited to get “one” would have seemed ludicrous a few years ago. Trout stole 49 bases as a rookie in 2012. He stole at least 30 two other seasons and at least 20 twice.

“I miss those days,” Trout said. “It was a good feeling getting to second base.”

Trout had one in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, followed by two when he hurt for most of 2021 and then one last year.

Trout still has the same speed as he did back then. His sprint speed is still in the 96th percentile in the majors.

The difference, as you’d expect, is that Trout and the Angels are now trying to keep the 31-year-old off the injured list.

In 2017, Trout suffered the first major injury of his career when he tore a ligament in his thumb sliding head-first into second on a stolen base. Trout has been wearing a protective glove since then. Now, the concern is more with his back.

“It’s hard for me to slide feet first,” Trout said. “I always slide head first. The wear and tear over the years has an effect. Just trying to be cautious of that.”

Trout missed more than a month last season because of a back injury that will require maintenance throughout the rest of his career. Trout has avoided any trouble with his back this year, partly because of the regular days off and partly because of safety measures like avoiding head-first slides.

“I just don’t want it to pop back up,” Trout said of the back issue.

The Angels are willing to give up what Trout could provide as a base-stealing threat if it keeps him healthy enough to be in the batters’ box regularly.

Of course, that hasn’t been going so well lately.

Trout entered Wednesday’s game hitting .255 with an .831 OPS, including .151 with a .578 OPS over his previous 15 games.

He said he was encouraged by games on Sunday and Monday, when he had two hits, four walks and no strikeouts in 11 trips to the plate.

“It’s getting better,” Trout said. “It’s not all the way there, obviously. But we’re winning baseball games, so that’s all that matters. I’m just grinding and trying to figure it out.”

Trout said the problem is not mechanical, but with his pitch recognition.

“The biggest thing is if I recognize spin,” Trout said. “If I recognize the pitches, the results will be there.”

NOTES

The Angels have two off days next week, but they are planning to keep Shohei Ohtani pitching on his normal day, which would be on Wednesday against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium. Jaime Barría is expected to pitch on Tuesday against the Dodgers. That would then push Reid Detmers back to next Friday at Colorado, which would be eight days rest from his start on Wednesday at Texas. …

Infielder Gio Urshela (back) was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Nevin said on Tuesday that the Angels were trying to get him consecutive days off to finally get him past the nagging back issue that he’s been fighting for more than a week. …

Left-hander Matt Moore (oblique) continues to increase his throwing workouts, Manager Phil Nevin said. Moore is expected to get on a mound either this weekend in Kansas City or next week in Anaheim. It remains to be seen whether he’ll need a rehab assignment.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Shohei Ohtani, 5-2, 3.32) vs. Rangers (RHP Nate Eovaldi, 9-2, 2.49), Thursday, 5:05 p.m., Angel Stadium, Bally Sports West, 830 AM.

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