TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Trout was back on the baseball field Wednesday, getting at-bats during an intrasquad minor league game against other Los Angeles Angels players. He finished his six plate appearances at Field 4 with a home run, signed some autographs, and chatted with former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.
Trout didn’t speak to the media but Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani did, touting the two-time Most Valuable Player as being worthy of a new contract extension.
“I’m really happy and excited to play with such a great player for a long time,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “If anyone deserved such a big contract, it’s Mike, and I think he surely deserves it.”
Trout, 27, and the Angels are close to finalizing a $432 million, 12-year contract. The deal was disclosed Tuesday by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The contract was likely to be announced by the end of the week, the person said.
Ohtani first met Trout during his tour of major league ballparks when he was deciding where to play.
“I didn’t really know what kind of person he was, I only saw him playing on the baseball field,” Ohtani said. “I had a chance to talk to him during my meeting (with the Angels). That conversation we had, he seemed like a really genuine nice guy. He actually was when I met him also so that impression didn’t change.”
While Trout faced Angels pitchers Cody Allen, Jaime Barria and Griffin Canning on the minor league field, collecting two singles and a home run, Ohtani was continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The two-way player threw 70 pitches, the furthest from 50 feet, and also did some hitting in the batting cages. The Angels are expecting Ohtani to return as the designated hitter in the first half of the season.
Last year, Ohtani said he leaned on Trout often for hitting advice. It paid off as Ohtani finished with a .285 batting average, 22 home runs, 61 RBIs and won the American League Rookie of the Year.
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“Body-wise, I feel well, everything feels well,” Ohtani said of his rehab. “There are some parts of hitting I need to polish. I think it’s getting there.”
The next step is expected to be batting practice on the field for the 24-year-old Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1.
“He’s doing well,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “The whole time he’s been on target.”
NOTES: Ohtani stayed up to watch the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners play their regular-season opener at the Tokyo Dome early Wednesday. “There was a lot of excitement,” Ohtani said. “It was a really cool atmosphere. I wish I was there to watch the game.” He enjoyed seeing the ovation that the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki received. “It’s more than being a fan — he’s someone who every baseball player and every kid looks up to,” Ohtani said. “He’s a really iconic figure.” … The Angels will play three more days in Arizona before hosting the Dodgers in an exhibition series starting Sunday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
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