Simply the best: Mike Trout

By Bob Elliott

CINCINNATI _ Comparisons are tossed around like a viral videos inside a clubhouse.

When TSN’s Paul Hollingsworth told Russell Martin that Adam Jones compared Mike Trout to Bo Jackson, Martin didn’t bat an eye, shrug a shoulder or walk away.

And you should know this A) the Baltimore Orioles outfielder is a big-time Jackson fan, and B) Trout while very good at baseball is a one-sport man, unlike Jackson who excelled with the Kansas City Royals and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the first time they put the football in Trout’s hands he’d run for 200 yards,” Martin said. “He’s a beast.”

Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, had another beastly (or is it beast-mode?) performance Tuesday night.
He came to the plate four times for the American League and three times reached base, resulting in three of the AL’s first four runs in a 6-3 win in the 86th all-star game at Great American Ball Park.

Kansas City Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu, the former Jays coach, picked up the ball and carried it from Martin.

“You see these guys across the field and they’re impressive, but then you see Albert Pujols and Trout when we’re all in the same dugout ... they’re so thick in the back,” Wakamatsu. “Tackling either one of those guys would be like trying to tackle a bear.”

Wakamatsu played with Jackson for part of the 1991 season when they were with the Chicago White Sox. This was after Jackson had injured his hip playing football and he no longer had was beastly hulk status. By then Jackson was merely a hulk.

“I saw Bo hit a line drive onto the upper walkway at new Comiskey Park in Chicago and he never even turned his hip on the swing,” said Wakamatsu of Jackson’s two-run, two-out homer off Mark Langston tying the score in the bottom of the ninth. The Sox won in 10. 

“I’ve only seen ability like that a few times,” Wakamatsu said. “You respect athletic ability like that.”

Trout earned his second-straight all-star Ted Williams MVP honor, joining two-time winners Willie Mays (1963, 1968), Steve Garvey (1974, 1978), Gary Carter (1981, 1984) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1991, 20001) with two all-star game MVPs apiece. 

Yet, Trout didn’t receive the honor for simply his lead-off homer facing Zack Grienke, after teammate Pujols had told Trout “swing at the first pitch and go deep.” He’s not Superman ... he didn’t go deep until the third pitch.
He struck out in his second at bat and then beat out the back-end of a double play ball as he was clocked 21.3 mph at his top speed, according to Statcast. A lot of players in this era may have coasted into first. Trout beat the return throw from short on a bang-bang play at first.

Off the bat, Minnesota Twins second baseman thought it was an automatic double play ball.

“It was a one hopper,” said Dozier, who like Trout also homered. “That play speaks volumes for him.”

After a walk moved him to second Trout scored (20.4 mph) on Prince Fielder’s two-out single. 

Martin said Trout has all the tools: speed, power and defence.

“Watching him you forget how young he is, the thing you appreciate is the way he beat out the double play,” Martin said. “He plays like he is in his prime and he’s still really young, 

“I’m not sure how old he is (23), he makes the game look so easy.”

Wakamatsu headed for the plane with the seven Royals all-stars, manager Ned Yost and the rest of the KC coaching staff.

On the flight from KC to Cincinnati Sunday night the Royals allowed Josh Donaldson and Martin to travel with them. Were the Royals taking anyone with them on the way home?

“Just two, we’ll take the NL closer (Aroldis Chapman, who threw 13 three-digit pitches) and the AL lead-off hitter (Trout),” Wakamatsu said jokingly. 

A first-round pick of the Angels and former scouting director Eddie Bane, Trout started out as a big fish in a small town of Millville, N.J. 

Then, he was a first rounder -- 25th over-all in North America, five picks after the Jays selected right-hander Chad Jenkins.

And as he continues to show, he’s the game’s big fish with an AL MVP win, two runner-ups and a rookie of the year honor in his first three years.

Derek Jeter, acclaimed face of the game, retired last October.

If you haven’t appreciated Mike Trout before, you saw the New Face of The Game on a Tuesday night in Ohio.

 

Martin re-united with old pal: Russell Martin’s pre-game routine was normal.

He took a soccer ball onto the Great American Ball Park field to get loose and had batting practice.

And then it varies off the normal routine of a major-league game.

Mark Melancon, who Martin caught for two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, asked the Blue Jays picture to pose for a picture.

Before Melancon faced Brett Gardner he “peaked” over at Martin in the on-deck circle.

“He struck me out, he posted the picture on Instagram,” Martin said with a laugh, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”

Martin went down looking in his only at-bat of the night.

“That cutter of his is dominating,” said Martin, who took a front-door slider which he said was a questionable call for strike one, fouled off a knuckle curve and then took a front-door slider, another questionable call for strike three.

Good morning, good afternoon and good night.

“I wasn’t even upset, he executed so well.”

Martin said the trip to Ohio “energized him for the second half.” He only played two innings.

Josh Donaldson saw 12 pitches and walked twice, facing Zach Greinke and Gerrit Cole.

At his fourth all-star game (Pittsburgh, Yankee Stadium, Phoenix) Martin said he enjoyed hanging around the other players.

“It’s good to see personalities you don’t see when you’re on the field,” Martin told reporters. “On the field you see the competitive side, at an all-star game you get to see them as people.”

The Jays try to right their season Friday night when they host some people wearing Tampa Bay Rays uniforms in the opener of a three-game weekend series.