ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout is confident enough in baseball’s safety rules to stay on the field during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trout has decided to play for the Los Angeles Angels in the shortened baseball season, although his year will be paused in a few weeks by the birth of his first child. The three-time AL MVP confirmed his decision Wednesday before the Angels’ final exhibition game against the San Diego Padres at Angel Stadium.
Trout expressed uncertainty this month about the safety of this unique major league campaign, saying he wouldn’t risk his growing family’s health to participate. After three weeks of experience with the regulations put in place by the Angels and Major League Baseball, Trout is cautiously optimistic about baseball’s ability to hold a season safely.
“I’m playing,” Trout said on a video conference call. “It’s definitely been great so far.”
Trout will be in the lineup when the Angels open the season Friday in Oakland, but he won’t be joined by Anthony Rendon. The Angels’ new $245 million third baseman will miss opening day and perhaps a few more games with an oblique muscle injury, manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday night.
Two weeks ago, Trout was still “up in the air” about whether to play at all this season. He has been encouraged by the low number of positive tests around baseball, along with his fellow players’ willingness to follow safety regulations.
“Guys have been respectful of others,” Trout said. “Everybody is taking responsibility to wear a mask and do social distancing and just be safe, and we’re seeing that. The results are there. Just got to pick it up and stay on it when we’re on the road. … We’re going to different cities where it’s really bad right now. It’s going to be tough. As of right now, everything is great.”
Although he’ll have to wait a bit longer to form his much-anticipated duo with Rendon, Trout’s decision to commit to the season is a boost for the Angels. They’re hoping to contend for only their second playoff berth and first postseason victory during the incredible career of Trout, who turns 29 on Aug. 7.
Trout won’t be in the lineup every day, however: He doesn’t know how much time he’ll spend away from the team after his wife, Jessica, gives birth to their son.
Jessica Trout is due Aug. 3, and the thought of impending fatherhood clearly gives more butterflies to the Angels slugger than just about anything he can face on a baseball diamond.
“Realizing I’m having a child in a couple of weeks, it’s surreal,” Trout said. “When I first started dating Jess (in high school), we talked about having kids, and now it’s happening. We’re very fortunate and blessed. I can’t wait to be a dad. I can’t even describe the emotions of it right now.”
Mike and Jessica have even picked out a name for their boy, but they aren’t telling anybody yet, much to their mothers’ consternation.
Trout hasn’t made a plan with general manager Billy Eppler for his absence from the Angels, but he plans to do so soon.
“They’ll be testing every day,” Trout said. “I’m not sure about a quarantine, but obviously I’ve got to be there for the newborn, my first one.”
Trout went 0 for 2 with a strikeout Wednesday night against San Diego. The Angels’ home opener is Tuesday against Seattle.
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