Mike Trout, sidelined with back issues, says ‘career is not over’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Trout appreciated all the support he received after the Los Angels Angels’ head trainer revealed the three-time AL MVP had a “rare” spinal condition that could affect him for the rest of his career.

Even if Trout thought the whole thing was blown out of proportion.

“I think he meant that I have to stay on top of the routine I do on a daily basis to keep it from coming back,” Trout said after watching his Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 to clinch their first series win in nearly a month.

“I’m appreciative of all the prayer requests,” he added, “but my career is not over.”

The 10-time All-Star left a game against Houston on July 12 with what was first called back spasms, then went on the injured list a week later with what was called rib cage inflammation.

On Wednesday, Angels trainer Mike Forstad revealed it to be a rare spinal condition, saying it’s something Trout “has to manage not just through the rest of the season.”

“I got back and my phone was blowing up: `My career is over,”‘ Trout said, smiling at the absurdity of the overreactions he’d been seeing online. “It’s just rare for a baseball player. I just have to stay on top of it.”

Trout has been examined by Dr. Robert Watkins III, a top back specialist and the co-director of the Marina Spine Clinic in Los Angeles, and received a cortisone injection last week that has already begun to produce results.

He has a follow-up visit next week and “we’ll go from there,” he said, though he has every intention of being back this year.

“Of course,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

The Angels have had no discussions about shutting him down.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where we’re going to make that decision,” Frostad said. “He’s going to have a follow-up here once we get back and we’ll just kind of see what the doctor thinks at that point.”

Trout, the second-highest paid player in the game at $37.1 million, had been enjoying a nice bounce-back season after a calf injury limited him to just 36 games last season. He was hitting .270 with 24 homers and 51 RBIs through 79 games, a rare bright spot in what has been a dismal season for the Angels.

“He’s been a great teammate,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s been the dugout, helping out his teammate – he’s obviously a good sounding board for a lot of young players. For them to have him here and know that he’s supporting them is huge, I’m sure, for some younger guys.”

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.