Trout returns as DH to ease back into action

Angels outfielder goes 0-for-4, snaps 17-game hitting streak

Trout returns as DH to ease back into action

ANAHEIM -- Angels star Mike Trout returned to the lineup for Thursday night's 7-1 loss to the Tigers after missing five consecutive games with a tight left hamstring -- his longest absence since he became an everyday player in 2012. Trout served as the designated hitter in the Halos' series opener against the Tigers and said he expects to start in center field Friday.

"I'm 100 percent," Trout said. "Sitting on the bench, it's not fun. You want to be out there with your guys. I'm just happy I'm back."

Trout went 0-for-4 in his return, snapping his career-high 17-game hitting streak.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the club decided to have Trout DH rather than play outfield on Thursday to slowly ease him back into action.

"In consulting with our medical department, they think it's a better transition," Scioscia said. "They're really comfortable with the fact that they can keep him loose in between at-bats, which can be 45 minutes apart, and not have to have him expand his workload to go running balls down from gap to gap today. We're going to get a read on him to make sure he's good to DH, which we're very comfortable he is. Mike said he's ready to go."

Scioscia on loss, Trout's return

Trout said he doesn't expect his hamstring to restrict his baserunning. The 25-year-old underwent an MRI on Monday that came back clean.

"When the MRI came back, it made me mentally clear," Trout said. "I was worried a little bit. But when you hear good news like that, it makes you feel confident. And when you don't feel anything, it's even better."

Trout's return is welcome news for the Angels, who went 2-4 over the six games that the reigning American League Most Valuable Player sat out due to the bothersome hamstring. Trout is batting .355 with a 1.146 OPS, eight home runs, 21 RBIs and five stolen bases over 30 games this season.

Worth noting

Danny Espinosa, who is hitless in his last 34 at-bats, received another day off Thursday, with Cliff Pennington starting at second base in his place. Espinosa's slump has caused his batting average to sink to .138 -- the lowest mark among qualified batters in the Majors.

"We love the way Danny brings defense at second base, he's terrific, but he's really mired in a downturn that is bringing a frustration level to him that we need to try to get rid of," Scioscia said. "And the only way to do that is for him to exhale a little bit."

Espinosa's offensive struggles have resulted in more playing time for Pennington, who has now started five of the Angels' last nine games.

• Right-hander Huston Street (right lat strain) has shifted his rehab to Arizona and is slated to face hitters later this week, Scioscia said. Fellow reliever Cam Bedrosian (right groin strain) continues to advance in his throwing progression, but has still not thrown off the mound. Right-hander Andrew Bailey (right shoulder inflammation), meanwhile, said his shoulder flared up a bit Friday when he was throwing the third bullpen session of his recovery, forcing him to stop from throwing for four days. Bailey said he resumed throwing Wednesday and Thursday, and is now "taking it day by day."

"I'm kind of in a holding pattern for a little bit," Bailey said. "Just got to listen and be honest. It's frustrating, but you've always got to take it one day at a time."

C.J. Cron, who was hit by a pitch in the right wrist while playing in his first rehab game Sunday, started and played nine innings at first base for Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, going 2-for-4 with two doubles. Cron landed on the disabled list with a left foot contusion on April 29.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.