Mike Trout hits for cycle in Angels’ rout of Mariners

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Saving the home run for last, Mike Trout recorded his first career cycle Tuesday as the Angels crushed the Mariners 12-0.

Trout struck out in his first at-bat of the night before singling in the third, tripling in the fourth, doubling in the sixth and homering in the eighth. He ended the game with five RBI, and he also picked up his ninth steal to go along with his ninth homer.

The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin pointed out that the 21-year-old Trout is the youngest player to hit for the cycle since Hall of Famer Mel Ott did so in 1929. It was also the perfect answer to Miguel Cabrera’s three-homer game Sunday in light of the subsequent revisiting of the 2012 MVP race.

After a slow start, Trout, the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up last season, is currently on pace for 32 homers and 32 steals, as well as 112 runs scored and a whopping 122 RBI. He’s hitting .343 in May to raise his overall average to .293.

Of course, as impressive as his numbers are, they’re still not a match for Cabrera’s this year. And his defense isn’t yet making up the difference, at least not according to WAR. Plus, any chance of Trout factoring into the MVP race will likely hinge on the Angels’ playing much better ball from here on in. At 18-27, they have a better record than only the Astros in the American League.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.