Fri Jan 20 4:05pm ET
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in Anaheim, Calif. Mike Trout feels pain free as the start of spring training approaches. The three-time AL MVP was sidelined between July 12 and Aug. 19 last year by an injury to his upper back and ribcage.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
NEW YORK (AP) Mike Trout feels pain-free as the start of spring training approaches.
The Los Angeles Angels' three-time AL MVP was sidelined between July 12 and Aug. 19 last year by an injury to his upper back and ribcage. After returning, he hit .308 with 16 homers and 29 RBIs in 40 games for an overall season batting average of .283 with 40 homers and 80 RBIs in 119 games.
The 31-year-old 10-time All-Star is the captain of the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic and will report to spring training by Feb. 16.
''The back's been a non-issue for the past four months,'' Trout said during a conference call Friday. ''I felt a little bit when I came back during the season last year and then I've been on top of it pretty well and just keeping the same routine in the weight room, just a warmup and making sure all the back muscles around it is strong.''
The U.S. team will try to defend its 2017 WBC title (the 2021 tournament was called off because of the pandemic). The road to that starts when players report to the Phoenix area on March 6, then play exhibitions in Arizona against the San Francisco Giants on March 8 and the Angels on March 9.
The Americans open World Baseball Classic play against Britain on March 11 as part of a first-round group that includes Mexico, Canada and Colombia.
Trout, who is from south New Jersey, also talked Friday about another important sport to him: the NFL. A longtime Philadelphia Eagles fan, he recorded a video of himself singing the fight song for the team four years ago and plans to be at Saturday's playoff game against the New York Giants.
''The football game tomorrow is going to be fun because I'm obviously going to be there,'' Trout said.