Angels’ Trout optimistic he can return after All-Star break

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Slugger Mike Trout is optimistic that he can be back in the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup shortly after the All-Star break.

Trout said before Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles that he started swinging a bat a couple days ago along with playing catch and jogging.

The time-time AL MVP has missed 40 games. He went on the injured list May 18 after straining his right calf the night before against the Cleveland Indians. The Angels said at the time that Trout would miss six to eight weeks.

“Mentally, just being able to do stuff and not having to worry about it has been big,” Trout said. “It’s still just getting that strength back. Once the tissue grows back it is about getting the mobility back too.”

Trout, who is on the 60-day IL, is eligible to return July 17, when the Angels host Seattle in their second game after the break.

Trout isn’t feeling any discomfort while swinging but hasn’t progressed to running at full speed. He also isn’t taking fly balls in the outfield or running the bases yet. The biggest positive development for him is that there haven’t been any setbacks in his rehab.

“I think the last thing that’s going to get me from coming back is running. I have to be able to run full speed and with no pain. The last thing I want to do is come back too early and tear it again,” he said.

Despite the long absence, Trout was voted as a starter to the All-Star Game for the eighth straight time. It was his ninth overall selection. He was batting .333 with eight homers and 18 RBIs at the time of his injury. He said he hasn’t decided whether he will attend the All-Star festivities in Denver.

Manager Joe Maddon was hoping that the Angels could play .500 ball until Trout came back, but they have slightly exceeded those expectations. Los Angeles went into Friday’s game with a 39-41 record, but is 21-19 since Trout went on the IL.

“It’s going to be interesting to get him back with all the growth that’s occurred within this team. A lot of guys have gotten a lot of playing time and gotten better,” Maddon said.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.