Phenom Trout brings his talents to Yankee Stadium
Mike Trout may not be old enough to legally have an alcoholic beverage, but he isn't too young to play in an All-Star Game.
Or possibly win Rookie of the Year honors . . . or a batting title . . . or an MVP award.
The Angels phenom is in the running for each -- and he's only 20 years old.
Just 140 miles from his hometown of Millville, N.J., Trout stood at the plate in his Yankee Stadium debut Friday night, representing one of the newest faces of baseball.
Trout was nicknamed the Millville Meteor, and his meteoric rise continued as he went 2-for-4, his 29th multihit game in 64 starts, with two steals and a run in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees.
"It means a lot," he said of playing well before family and friends. "They come to as many games as they can. You always want to do good for them and put a smile on their face. But I'm sure if I went 0-fer tonight, they'd still be happy."
From South Jersey to Southern California (and now the South Bronx), Trout is being recognized as the West Coast version of the Nationals' Bryce Harper, 19, the only player in the majors younger than Trout.
Drafted by the Angels with the 25th pick in the first round in 2009, Trout debuted last season, hitting .220 in 40 games.
"It's all surreal to me, these last few months and last year getting the call, especially at a young age," he said. "I'm just having fun, putting all the pressure behind me. Just go out there and try to be comfortable."
Trout leads the American League with a .344 batting average and 28 stolen bases. He tops all AL rookies in nearly every major offensive category, including home runs (12) and RBIs (40). His acrobatic catches in centerfield have become YouTube sensations. Since being called up April 28, he's helped turn around an Angels team that got off to a 6-14 start.
Albert Pujols, who debuted at 21 and has won three MVPs, praised his young teammate.
"He's hungry," Pujols said. "He's taking advantage of every opportunity and every minute. He's not taking anything for granted no matter how much success he's had."
Trout, who pitched and played shortstop until his senior year in high school, grew up a Phillies fan but admired and emulated Derek Jeter. He said he ate lunch with Jeter in the clubhouse at the All-Star Game, in which Trout singled off the Mets' R.A. Dickey to become the youngest player to record a hit since Al Kaline in 1955.
Jeter and Trout spoke on the field during batting practice before Friday night's game, which the Trout family watched from the comfort of Jeter's suite at the Stadium. "Just the way he approaches the game and the way he plays the game was what I wanted to be like when I grew up,'' Trout said of Jeter.
Trout returned home Thursday, but rather than announce his arrival and ignite the hero's welcome he would have received, he sneaked in and out of town with only a select few knowing.
"Kept it quiet," Trout said. "Just didn't tell anybody. I called some of my buddies to come over and have dinner with me. Played some ping-pong and video games."
The newest face of baseball isn't too old for ping-pong and video games.