MLB

Mike Trout, on fire to start 2021 MLB season, explains Angels’ ‘pass the baton mentality’ and more

Los Angeles Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout is off to a hot start this season, slashing .393/.521/.804 (262 OPS+) through 17 games with six homers and 12 RBI. In a conversation with CBS Sports, the 29-year-old Trout talked about the team chemistry, how he’s feeling about his swing this year, his near-decade long partnership with BodyArmor and more.

Entering Thursday, the Angels are 9-7 on the young season and in third place in the American League West. As Trout and the Angels go after that elusive playoff spot — the club’s last postseason appearance came back in 2014 — this season, Trout spoke about the Halos lineup this year.

“We have a ‘pass the baton’ mentality at the plate,” Trout told CBS Sports. “It is not one person going to carry us. One through nine in that lineup that day is big for us. Either it’s getting on base, doing the little stuff or getting a big hit late in the innings, it has been big for us so far. We’ve been winning games like that, we don’t think we’re out of any games. It doesn’t matter what the score is but we keep battling.” 

The early success from the 2021 Angels is in part due to a steadier rotation and healthy, productive lineup. And, included in their 7-3 start to the season were several comeback rallies. 

The Angels, who went 26-34 in last year’s abbreviated 60-game slate, have not posted a winning record since finishing 85-77 in 2015. Trout has yet to win a playoff game with the team that drafted him as the 25th pick of the 2009 MLB Draft. Now in the third year of the monster 12-year, $426.5 million extension he signed before 2019 Opening Day, Trout is ready to help lead the team back to October.

“I think it’s about just taking it one game at a time, it’s a long season,” Trout. said. “At the end of the last month of last year, we were playing good baseball. The new additions that [general manager] Perry [Minasian] brought in are great people. We have that great team chemistry right now and a great core leadership in this group, and we’ll take it one game at a time to see where we are at the end of September.”

Following a sprint of a 2020 season in which players didn’t have the same amount of time to ramp up as they would for a full, 162-game season, Trout said his swing is feeling good now three weeks into this season after making some tweaks and incorporating additional hitting drills into his routine.

“[My swing] has been very good the last couple of games,” Trout said. “Just getting the timing right and when it’s right, my swing feels great. Once I dial it in, it should be a fun year.”

With MLB ballparks allowing fans back to games after the fan-less 2020 season, Trout said that having the return of genuine crowd energy has been a game-changer. 

“Obviously, we go to cities with different capacities but having fans in the stadium and getting that feeling and atmosphere is huge,” Trout said. “Last year was so tough for me and so tough for the guys just to get going. We feed off the energy from the fans in a way and you are going out there and there’s only so much [fake] crowd noise you can pump in, to pump you up.”

After taking home the AL Rookie of the Year award, Trout joined BodyArmor as one of their top-name sponsors in 2013. That same year, the late Kobe Bryant also joined the company after he purchased a large stake in the company and joined BodyArmor’s board of directors. At the time, BodyArmor was a sports-drink startup looking to shake up the market. Trout spoke with CBS Sports about what it means to him to be a part of the growth and brand building for the athlete-backed BodyArmor.

“It is huge [to be a part of this],” Trout said. In my opinion, it is the No. 1 sports drink in the game. You see all the athletes, all of these big-time stars partnering up with BodyArmor because they’re seeing how great the product it. It definitely is big to have the top athletes partner up with a sports drink, it’s great. It seems like every year, it’s more big-name guys added to the list.”

That list now includes fellow MLB stars Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Jack Flaherty along with four-time Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka, nine-time NBA All-Star James Harden among other notable professional athletes.

For Trout, BodyArmor is key for avoiding cramps, something which the 6-foot-2, 235 pound Trout says he suffered from frequently before he starting drinking BodyArmor.

“Before I partnered [with BodyArmor], I cramped up a lot,” Trout told CBS Sports. “Why I partnered with BodyArmor is because their sports drinks keep me hydrated throughout the whole day. I’ll drink them so I can stay hydrated before I work out as well as for before and after games. It’s huge for me, you don’t want to be out in the field cramping up.”



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