After being limited to designated hitter duty for the past 10 days because of a sprained right index finger, Trout was back in center field for Friday night’s game against the Orioles.
He homered in his first at-bat, snapping a 14-game streak without a homer, which was his longest streak since 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also walked and reached base three times in the Angels’ 7-1 win in their series opener at Camden Yards.
Trout also impressed with his glove, running down a liner in the gap to rob Danny Valencia of a potential double in the fourth.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, speaking before the game, said Trout was anxious to get back in the outfield.
“It drove him crazy,” Scioscia said, referring to the DH stint. “It’s much tougher than it sounds. He wished he could have played center all week. This is the earliest he could get back, and he’s ready.”
Asked about the physical effect the injury had on his hitting, Trout said, “It wasn’t bothering me at all.”
As for the mental component, that was a different story.
“The process of, in between at-bats, just staying locked in at DH, it’s good for one or two days, but 10 days is tough,” he said.
Before the injury, Trout, 26, had started four games at designated hitter this season. Over his past nine contests as the Angels’ DH, he batted .214 (6-for-28) with no extra-base hits. He walked nine times and had 11 strikeouts.
On the season, he’s hitting .321 with 24 home runs and 49 RBIs, and he leads the league in walks (72) and on-base percentage (.462). Friday’s homer was the 1,132nd hit of his career, moving him past Scioscia on the all-time hit list.
“There’s a lot more guys on that list above me,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think that’s going to make his mantle.”
Defensively, his seven runs saved rank second among American League center fielders entering Friday. Against Baltimore, he showed no signs of rust with the glove.
“I’ve been doing it for a few years,” Trout said. “Center field is center field.”
A two-time MVP and six-time All-Star, Trout is currently second behind Boston’s Mookie Betts in the AL All-Star balloting for outfielders.
Trout’s teammate Shohei Ohtani, who ranks fourth in the voting for designated hitters, has started taking batting practice again despite having a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament.
After being medically cleared Wednesday to swing the bat, Ohtani took batting practice Thursday and Friday. Scioscia said that Ohtani’s hitting sessions went well and that Ohtani could potentially graduate to live batting practice against pitchers as early as this weekend.
“Hopefully as he comes out of these and is assessed, we’ll get some clarity,” Scioscia said, “But it could happen this weekend, yes.”
In 34 games as a hitter this season, the lefty-swinging Ohtani is batting .289 with six home runs and 20 RBIs.
As a pitcher, he is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts. In 49⅓ innings, he has 61 strikeouts and 20 walks.