Trout wants to be winning factor for Angels

All-Star slugger popular in clubhouse, motivated to claim World Series ring

Trout wants to be winning factor for Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A gray garbage can sits at the edge of the lawn and well beyond the Budweiser sign plastered on the left-center-field wall at Tempe Diablo Stadium. It has become a target for the Angels' hitters during batting-practice sessions throughout Spring Training.

And on Monday, the final day in Arizona for most of the regulars, Mike Trout finally hit a baseball inside of it, prompting a rambunctious celebration that momentarily halted the team's entire workout.

Garrett Richards, Trout's roommate and good friend, bellowed in laughter when relayed the news.

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"He's just one of those people, dude," Richards said. "Everybody knows that one guy that everything goes their way."

Trout is the guy who always draws the first pick in fantasy football, always shoots down the biggest deer and always wins at pregame ping-pong, prompting equal parts amazement and exasperation from his peers. He is, as everybody else knows him, the guy who establishes himself as the consensus best player in the game before his 25th -- or 24th, or 23rd -- birthday.

Entering his fifth full season in the Major Leagues, and coming off becoming the first player to finish within the top two in Most Valuable Player Award voting in his first four years, Trout carries the weight of the entire franchise -- of his entire sport -- on his shoulders. And teammates continue to marvel at how little it affects him.

"I don't think he feels the weight of that," said right fielder Kole Calhoun, Trout's throwing partner. "He's out there just playing. That's kind of what makes him great."

Trout strips everything down to its simplest, most basic component.

He'll hardly pick up a bat until he reports to Spring Training, because "I don't want to get into a thing where I start thinking about changing my swing." He won't watch video of himself "unless I'm going really bad, like last August." And Trout is forever in the moment, never giving much consideration to the past or the future or, especially, the big picture.

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"That," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said, "is a skillset."

Eppler, a longtime executive with the Yankees, is around Trout on a daily basis for the first time this spring. Given that, the first-year GM was asked if there was anything that surprised him about Trout, be it his power or his speed or his glove.

"Actually," Eppler said, "it's more of the guy he is; the guy in the clubhouse that you don't really know. He's energetic, he's young. He's just a very, very warm and easy guy to be around. There's a natural leader in him that kind of just comes out more through his personality than him exerting himself."

Angels closer Huston Street, who has spent 11 seasons with four different teams, calls Trout "one of my favorite teammates I ever played with" and says, "The mentality of Mike Trout is one of my favorite mentalities to be around."

For Street, it's pretty simple: "If you don't like Mike Trout, then you're just insecure."

"When you're interacting with Mike Trout, everybody feels that they're just like Mike Trout because he treats you that way," Street said. "But everybody knows that they're not. That's the special makeup of Mike, to maintain that type of humility."

Trout has compiled a FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement score of 37.8 since the start of 2012, about 10 wins better than the runner-up (Andrew McCutchen). In that four-year span, Trout is tied for fifth in batting average (.308), fourth in on-base percentage (.403), second in slugging (.568), first in Weighted Runs Created Plus (171), fourth in homers (134), sixth in RBIs (381) and tied for 11th in stolen bases (109).

Trout entered the spring with a desire to steal even more bases, because there's really nothing else to quibble about.

"I mean, if he wants to, sure, why not," Calhoun said. "If he wants to run for president, go for it."

When the 2016 season begins, Trout will be a little more than four months removed from his 25th birthday, having already received all of the major accolades and earned all of the big money.

Asked what continues to push him, Trout said, "Winning a ring. That's it."

Asked if he's motivated to go down as one of the greats, Trout talked about being remembered "as a guy going out there and playing hard every day."

It's really just that simple.

"I don't think about anything," Trout said. "I just go out there and play."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.