The clock is ticking for Mike Trout’s return.
The Angels centerfielder broke his left hamate bone in a game on July 3, underwent surgery and returned on August 22. After one game, he experienced more pain in his hand and wrist than he thought possible, leading to another IL stay on August 25.
“I wasn’t right,” Trout told reporters in New York after being placed back on the IL. “I was in more than bearable pain. I thought I could manage to just get out of there, and the next day I came out really, really sore.”
Trout will accompany the team on its upcoming trip to play the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins.
Trout has tried to return, but there are only 12 games left on the schedulethe three-time most valuable player in the American League, doesn’t have a larger window.
Certainly Trout’s return at this point wouldn’t change the final outcome of the Angels’ season. They were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after losing to the Tigers on Saturday night. Their 5-3 loss to Detroit on Sunday at Angel Stadium left them at 68-82guaranteeing their eighth straight losing season.
Trout’s return would be more significant for him as he would be able to finish a season off the IL, especially considering this is his third straight season derailed by injury. Trout was unavailable for comment for this article.
He only played 36 games in 2021 due to a left calf strain. In 2022, he missed a month recovering from a back injury. He worked diligently between 2022 and 2023 to ensure that none of these problems would recur, only to suffer a fractured hammam bone that resulted in an off-field foul.
“He wants to play again this year, he has expressed that many times,” said manager Phil Nevin before Sunday’s game. “As soon as he feels it is bearable to play in a game again, he will go out there. But I think he will be more careful this time, which he did last time, and be as aggressive about it.”
In his free time, Trout continued to be there for his teammates and watched games in the dugout when he was not in the coach’s room to receive treatment. On Saturday, he joined Nevin, closer Carlos Estévez, pitchers José Suárez and Jaime Barría, infielders Luis Rengifo (bicep tendon surgery) and Eduardo Escobar, and former Angel Albert Pujols in celebrating the career of Tigers star Miguel Cabrera before the game.
Trout was limited to 82 games this season, mostly due to the hand/wrist injury and some due to stress management.
“He hasn’t swung a bat in a while, so it’s going to take some time,” general manager Perry Minasian said in a news conference Saturday. “In that sense, I think scoring for him would be great for him too. Peace of mind is important in the off-season. I think it would be really beneficial for him to play again, but it has to feel good. … Since we’re in the standings, there’s no reason to overdo it to any degree.”