Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout said Friday that his back injury from last season is now a “non-issue.”
There was concern last summer when Trout was diagnosed with a costovertebral dysfunction at his T5 vertebrae — inflammation of a joint connected to a rib at the thoracic section of his spine.
Trout was sidelined for more than five weeks and there was dialogue that the injury could hamper the three-time American League MVP for the remainder of his career.
“The back’s been a non-issue for the past four months,” Trout said on a conference call to help promote the World Baseball Classic. “I felt it a little bit when I first came back, but I’ve been on top of it pretty well. Just keeping the same routine in the weight room, just to warm up and make sure all the muscles around it are strong.”
Trout, 31, anticipates no problems being ready to go when the Angels open spring training in mid-February.
Trout will leave the Angels when Team USA opens its camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 7. Team USA will have four WBC pool-play games in Phoenix from March 11-15.
This will be Trout’s first time playing in the WBC. He didn’t participate in 2013 and 2017 after reaching the majors.
“Last WBC, I was on the fence of doing it or not doing and when I decided not to do it, watching the games I kind of regretted that I didn’t do it,” Trout said.
If Team USA makes it out of pool play, it will play games in Miami for the remainder of its stay in the tournament.
In that case, it’s conceivable that Trout could step into the batter’s box to face his fellow Angels star, Shohei Ohtani of Team Japan.
“Every person I talk to that faces him says they don’t want to be in the box,” Trout said of Ohtani. “It’s going to be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.”
However, Trout also is skeptical of something Ohtani told him.
“He tried to tell me he’s not the best player (on Team Japan),” Trout said. “There’s no way.”
Trout said Team USA’s goal will be to the win the WBC.
“Every game means something. Every game is big time,” Trout said. “So you just got to be the last one standing.”
Trout batted .283 with 40 homers and 80 RBIs in 119 games last season. He hasn’t played in more than 150 games since 2016.
The 10-time All-Star has a .303 career average with 350 homers and 896 RBIs in 1,407 games over 12 seasons with the Angels.