Matsui thinks he can still play defense

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Hideki Matsui, upon arriving back in Japan:

“I’d like to prove I can play defense at spring training. It will be
difficult to play defense every day like in the past, but I’d like to
reach the point where I can play defense once every few games.”

Matsui played no defense last season. He played 24 games in the outfield in 2008.  When he did, he was really, really bad. Like Adam Dunn bad. 

This is not happening. The Angels signed Matsui to be a DH. If he plays a single game in the outfield next year that does not involve at least one mistake on the manager’s card and a big case of quick-onset food poisoning in the Angels’ clubhouse, I’ll eat my hat.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.