It took six awful starts for Dan Haren to admit to pitching through a back injury and upon being placed on the disabled list yesterday the Angels right-hander revealed that he’s been dealing with lower back soreness for most of the season.
Haren also told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles that trying to keep alive his streak of never missing a start and never needing a DL stint played a role in his trying to pitch through the injury, saying:
I think I was doing a disservice to the team by going out there at less than a hundred percent and trying to win ballgames. So I went and talked to Sosh, and I said basically, rather than making 16 more starts not being a hundred percent, I’d rather make 14 starts at a hundred percent. If I was pitching for a team in last place, I’d probably just finish off the year like this and get it taken care of at the end. But I think my last 14 starts or so are going to mean a lot to this team, and hopefully I can make a few more in October as well.
That’s the best-case scenario, of course, because there’s certainly no guarantee that a couple weeks off will cure Haren considering he estimated that the injury left him pitching at around 70 percent effectiveness recently.
Through the end of May he had a 3.52 ERA and 66/14 K/BB ratio in 72 innings, but after June 1 he allowed 29 runs, including nine homers, in 32 innings as his overall ERA ballooned to 4.86.
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 MLB.com. 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.