Mike Trout continues to feel soreness in his right calf, and after almost three-and-a-half-months on the injured list, it remains to be seen when or if the Angels superstar might return to action in 2021. Angels manager Joe Maddon told The Los Angeles Times’ Jack Harris and other reporters that “it’s a possibility” that Trout might be shut down for the remainder of the season.
“We’re probably getting closer to having to say something like that,” Maddon said. “But he still wants to continue to fight, and we’re going to honor his wishes. However Mike sees this, we’re going to go with it that way.”
As one might expect, neither Trout or the Angels want to move forward with a minor-league rehab assignment while the outfielder continues to deal with lingering discomfort in his calf. Trout hasn’t been able to get to that next step of being entirely pain-free, as his calf soreness has persisted after Trout has taken part in baseball activities for several weeks now.
The Angels are all but officially out of the playoff hunt, with a 65-67 record and 9.5 games back of a wild card berth. It isn’t as if Trout is trying to rush back for a pennant race, though Maddon implied that Trout simply wanted to clear the hurdle of his return now rather than wait until Opening Day 2022 to appear in his next big-league game. “The biggest thing about it right now is his mental well-being, how he feels about now and going into the offseason. That’s the most important thing, and then how it plays into next year,” Maddon said.
As much as Trout might want to return, however, Maddon noted “there’s got to be that moment where we have to start being realistic about it, where we may just have to say, ’That’s it.’” Considering all the time Trout has missed, it would certainly seem like he’d need at least a week of minor-league rehab games to ramp up, and the Angels might require a few days of soreness-free workouts prior to such a rehab assignment just to ensure that Trout has fully put his calf injury behind him.
That would leave late September as the most optimistic timeline for when Trout might be able to return, giving Trout perhaps a week or two of games to put a coda on what was shaping up as another huge season. Trout was hitting .333/.466/.624 over his first 146 plate appearances, with a 192 wRC+ that stood as the highest of his incredible career. If Trout indeed doesn’t play again this year, 2021 will go down as the shortest season of his career, with only 36 games played.