Mike Trout may have the best seat in the house.
The superstar outfielder, unfortunately, is still suffering from a calf injury that will keep him out until after the All-Star Game. But while Trout has been sidelined, his teammate Shohei Ohtani has been stealing the show, something typically reserved for Trout, and doing things baseball has never seen in, well, ever.
However, during the last month and a half Trout has been away, he was able to see Ohtani’s dominance and historic performance firsthand, and managed to avoid the limelight a bit.
Sporting News caught up with the Angels outfielder on Tuesday, addressing some key baseball topics, including Ohtani, MLB’s offense against sticky stuff and how he feels about the current state of the Angels. (And what it lists in the gym).
RELATED: Will Shohei Ohtani Hit and Pitch in the All-Star Game?
(Editor’s note: Angels outfielder Mike Trout interviewed with SN in conjunction with BodyArmor sports drink. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Sports News (SN): Shohei Ohtani has been from another world: everyone sees that he is incredible. But most of us we are looking at are not professional baseball players, let alone baseball players of his caliber. What is something you’ve seen Ohtani do that no one else notices every day?
Mike Trout (MT): Obviously hitting is so, hitting is difficult. Laughs To do it for a period of time like he’s doing, I’ve seen flashes of him when he first appeared, everyone knew he was a superstar in Japan. From the way he behaved when he first arrived, I knew he was going to be legit. The mental side is so impressive to me. People don’t see it. Batting is very difficult and you will miss most of the time, and to see the way it is handled, it doesn’t take turn to turn. Turn the page quick, and this is just the side of the hit.
To be able to do that, and then go through eight innings, eight blank innings and make 100 pitches and play the next day. There is so much on his plate and the way he has handled it is incredible.
I think people take it for granted. He’s hanging out every day, pitching every five days, playing every day, pitching and hitting on the days he pitches, people see him saying, “Ohtani is great,” but what happens on a daily basis, mentally and to be able to handle that. It’s really amazing.
I think any kid playing baseball, the way he can see how Ohtani is handling everything, is really remarkable. If you hit the bat, then you know you have to throw a pitch too, you will miss. You never see him angry. Always smiling. I’m so happy with the way the year has been for him, you know, he puts in all the hard work. He’s a good boy. Just the work that he puts in, it’s really extraordinary.
Obviously, people don’t see that. The numbers he’s putting in and the pitching stats, but the most important thing is how he handles himself off the field, on the club bench, in the weight room, it’s really incredible. Being able to stay mentally strong in everything. You know it’s pretty, pretty crazy.
SN: When he hits a home run, the sound is different.
MOUNTAIN: Oh yeah Everything is different about him. Safely.
SN: One of the biggest stories over the past month has been how Major League Baseball is handling pitchers with all the sticky stuff. What’s your take on how baseball has handled it?
MOUNTAIN: Obviously, he’s seeing the offensive numbers go up a bit. I think it all comes down to playing on equal terms. I think all the pitchers agree, he was getting a little out of control. Obviously sunscreen and rosin were a big deal. I didn’t even know about Spider Tack until this year, to be honest.
I tell people this all the time: guys who throw, for example, a guy who throws 90 on a low spin on a fastball is much easier to hit than a guy who throws 90 on high spin. There is simply something different.
Guys without sticky stuff, I think that’s a good thing for guys who have high spin speeds. You have guys that have high spin speeds no matter what, if they use sticky stuff or not. I think getting him out of the game was good, I think he needed it. Obviously a lot of people have different arguments about it, I think it all comes down to, as I said, just having a level playing field and going from there.
SN: It’s something I’ve thought a lot about, when it comes to the equivalent of a hitter – a hitter doesn’t really have that equivalent to get an advantage like that. Maybe you’re talking about a corked bat or something like that. But there’s nothing a hitter can really do when you see these guys pitching harder, nastier than ever, and now using sticky stuff too.
MOUNTAIN: I didn’t really think about that at all. I think it all came down to that you now have all the TrackMan stuff and the turning speeds have increased. And like I said when people said something about Spider Tack, I had no idea. I had to go out and investigate about it.
There are two sides: if you are going to go out, and obviously Spider Tack is a little crazy, but if you are just using things to grab, to locate the ball, to have more control over it, that is one thing.
But if you’re using it to increase your RPM on purpose, that’s where the line should be drawn. Now like I said, just leveling the playing field, and it just got out of hand. I couldn’t really tell you the difference, but knowing that the turning speeds have dropped a bit, maybe you can see a difference, but I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you.
SN: When you hit like you do, Mike, I really don’t think it matters if they go there with a tub of Spider Tack, do you?
SN: The Angels haven’t really had postseason success since you’ve been with the team, and that has been haunting your career for a bit. It’s obviously a team sport, but how much does that weigh down for you personally as a player?
MOUNTAIN: It all comes down to the playoffs and the playoffs. I think the staff that we have now and the guys at the top, we’ve had great GMs in the past, big Billy fan. [Eppler], obviously. But Perry (Minasian) and his guys in the front office, they work and they have a plan and they know the game well, and I trust them. We have conversations almost every day about how we can improve this team and how we can improve as a unit, top to bottom, and I think that’s huge. I think being on the same page will be worth it when that day comes, because the time you spend creates that workspace, to create that winning environment.
Everybody knows joe [Maddon], he has that winning and winning mentality and he keeps it loose in the dressing room, and I think that’s the key.
SN: I’m a Jersey boy, you’re a Jersey boy, I call it pork roll. Is it pork roll or Taylor ham?
MOUNTAIN: Ah, pork roll.
SN: When was the last time you ate pork roll?
MOUNTAIN: Laughs I couldn’t tell you.
SN: Here are three quick questions: First, are you in the gym, are you getting pumped up, sweaty, get up, what is your favorite song or artist?
MOUNTAIN: Go to the song or artist. I would have to say … Jeezy.
SN: I like. I’m not sure I expect that from you, but I like it.
MOUNTAIN: Yes, I am a great country boy. But if I’m in the gym, I want to get turned on, it has to be Jeezy.
SN: Pizza or tacos?
SN: New York or Chicago style?
MOUNTAIN: I have to go to New York, I have to stay on the east coast.
SN: I hope Yankees fans don’t miss out on hearing your “New York style,” but we’ll see.
SN: A rhinoceros and a hippo are fighting. Who wins?
MOUNTAIN: I’m going rhinoceros. Yes
SN: What can you tell me about partnering with BodyArmor?
MOUNTAIN: Yes, I have been associated with them for a while. Their growth since I first associated with them, the athletes they bring, the sports drinks improved every year, has new flavors. Every year they try to improve their sports drinks and I am happy to be on board. I have been on board for many years, throughout my entire career, probably until now. And looking forward to great things ahead and eventually to be the No. 1 sports drink in the world.
SN: What about BodyArmor that sets them apart from other popular sports drinks?
MOUNTAIN: Obviously, there are a ton of sports drinks out there. The Gatorade of the biggest competitor, but they are way behind us. For me: No artificial sweeteners, high potassium, low sodium is great. Funny story: my dad went to a store, this was before I was on the show. He said, “Look, look at this sports drink. It’s a new drink. I think it tastes pretty good, pretty good.”
I never looked back from there, got a contact and the association has been growing ever since. You can see that every year top athletes partner with us because they know how great sports drink is. I just look forward to the growth every year and to be the No. 1 sports drink in the world.