The Los Angeles Angels begin a 10-game road trip on Friday with the fourth-worst record in the American League.
The expected return of one of the game’s premier players brings some excitement to their lengthy journey. Mike Trout says he’s ready to rejoin the lineup after missing more than a month with upper back and left rib cage injuries.
Los Angeles plays a three-game series at the Detroit Tigers this weekend.
“I’m excited,” Trout said. “I’m happy with the progress. It was good for me to take time off and get it out of there. And now I get to play for about a month and a week, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Trout hasn’t played since July 12. The perennial All-Star was batting .270 with 24 home runs and 51 RBIs prior to being shelved. He missed most of last season due to a calf strain.
Trout didn’t have a minor league rehab stint. Instead, he took batting practice over the weekend, faced live pitching on Monday and underwent a workout on Wednesday.
“Everything feels great,” Trout said. “I had a recovery day (Tuesday) and I’m doing some stuff (Wednesday), and hopefully I’ll be in there on Friday. I’m full-go.”
Interim manager Phil Nevin stopped short of saying Trout would be in the lineup.
“We’ll see how he feels Friday,” Nevin said.
The Angels’ offense has floundered with or without Trout this season. They own a team batting average of .228, third-worst in the American League as of Thursday.
The Tigers have been even more inefficient. They’re hitting .226 and remain the only team that hasn’t scored at least 400 runs this season (384).
Los Angeles enters their road swing with a three-game losing streak. They were swept in a series with Seattle, surrendering 25 runs in the process.
“They’ve got really good hitters over there that don’t chase much,” Nevin said. “When you don’t put it over the plate or you’re behind in the count, you can get hurt.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-8, 3.42 ERA) will start the opener of the weekend series for the Angels.
He has struggled with his command throughout the season, issuing 49 walks in 100 innings. The problem has only gotten worse this month, as he’s walked four batters in each of his past two outings.
However, Sandoval has only given up a total of four runs in his last three starts. He held Minnesota to two runs in five innings last Friday, but the Angels were shut out.
Sandoval won his lone career start against Detroit last season, striking out nine in 5 2/3 innings.
He’ll be opposed by right-hander Matt Manning (0-0, 3.24 ERA), who will be making his fourth start this month since coming off the injured list. He gave up four runs and 10 hits in five innings against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
“In the beginning of the game, he had a hard time landing his spin and they hit him hard,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He gave up a lot of hits. When he spun balls in the strike zone they hit them. But he rebounded with a pretty good finish and a couple zeroes toward the end.”
In his previous start, Manning tossed seven scoreless innings against Tampa Bay.
He faced the Angels twice last season, going 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA.