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Mike Trout's status as the best MLB player of his generation remains intact, but injuries have become a concern for the Los Angeles Angels star. Now, he apparently has something he'll have to deal with for a while.
Angels head athletic trainer Mike Frostad told The Athletic's Sam Blum that Trout, who has been out since July 12 with a back issue, has been diagnosed with a condition called costovertebral dysfunction at T5 that could be a long-term issue.
From The Athletic:
“I think we have to have some concern on that,” head athletic trainer Mike Frostad said when asked about Trout being out long-term. “… He’s a little more upbeat today. And I think he’s starting to feel like he’s getting the benefits.
“But long-term we do have to look at this as something that — he has to manage it, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career probably.”
Hours later, Trout downplayed the concern about his back, telling reporters the condition isn't a career-altering problem so much as something he needs to "stay on top of" and calling all the comments about his career "silly," per Blum:
"Yeah, I just talked to (head athletic trainer Mike Frostad). It's not what the report came out. I think he meant, I've got to stay on top of the routine I do on a daily basis to prevent it from coming back. I feel good where it's at right now. Every day it's improving. And I feel really good. I felt really good today."
There had initially been hope that Trout's back problem was minor when he was first sidelined. He didn't initially hit the injured list and the Angels even put him in the lineup on July 16 before scratching him. He would hit the IL two days later and is reportedly still not performing baseball activities.
Trout is reportedly due for a follow-up appointment this weekend. Frostad reportedly said he didn't think the Angels were at the point where they were thinking about him not playing again this season. Trout couldn't provide a timeline on when he'll be able to swing a bat, but said he expects to play again this season.
Mike Trout's long-term outlook
No player in baseball has been more consistently elite at the plate than Trout over the last 10 years, but it's hard not to worry about his health.
It has been six years since Trout last appeared in at least 150 games in a season and three years since he played 100 (that includes the pandemic-shortened 2020 season). Since 2016, Trout has hit the IL with injuries in his left thumb, right wrist, right calf and now upper back.
His new injury is apparently quite rare:
“This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back,” Frostad said. “The doctor (Robert Watkins), who is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country, if not the world, doesn’t see a lot of these.
“And for it to happen in a baseball player, we just have to take into consideration what he puts himself through with hitting, swinging on a daily basis, just getting prepared. And then also playing in the outfield. … There’s so many things that can aggravate it. But this doctor hasn’t seen a lot of it.”
The 30-year-old Trout signed an MLB-record 12-year, $426 million contract extension with the Angels that will keep him in Anaheim through the 2030 season. If you're the Angels, a team well-versed in mega-contracts ending disastrously, you can't help but worry about this latest development.
Trout, however, doesn't think you should eulogize his career just yet:
"I got back and my phone was blowing up. It said my career's over. That's news to me.