Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Mike Trout keeps his learner's permit
By Mark Saxon
Before Monday night, Mike Trout had never seen Matt Cain's move to first base or timed his delivery. He was running against Buster Posey, one of the best catchers in baseball.
None of it mattered. Trout got on base in his first three at-bats and stole second all three times.
It's another example of what makes Trout, 20, such a special talent. He combines physical gifts with an ability to learn and adjust, even in the course of one game. Trout has attempted 22 stolen bases this season and has been caught just three times.
"He does make a quick study of pitchers," manager Mike Scioscia said. "On the bench, these guys are watching. They're looking for timing and looking for a key. When he's at first base, if he feels good and gets his jump, you've seen it. He beat some pretty good times last night."
Trout, who spent the first three weeks of the season at Triple-A, trails the Chicago Cubs' Tony Campana by just three stolen bases for the major-league lead.
Trout said he noticed that Cain was quicker to the plate early and then had a longer leg kick as the game moved along. Like the player he's often compared to, Rickey Henderson, Trout prefers headfirst slides, which leave a player vulnerable to upper-body injuries. He said he never felt comfortable going feet-first.
"You've just got to play fearless. You can't think about that stuff," Trout said.