The Los Angeles Angels have activated star outfielder Mike Trout Tuesday and welcomed him back into a lineup desperately still searching for a playoff spot. He's batting second Tuesday night against the Reds and playing center field.
Trout, 32, has not appeared in a game since July 3 after suffering a left hamate fracture on a swing. Prior to suffering that injury, he was hitting .263/.369/.493 (132 OPS+) with 18 home runs, 44 RBI, and two stolen bases in 81 games. His contributions had been worth an estimated 2.9 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations.
Trout had been estimated to return within an eight-week period. Monday marked seven weeks exactly since he suffered the fracture. This will not be the first time he's returned from the IL without going on a rehab assignment. Trout has not played in the minors since 2017.
"We're gonna move forward with some of the things he's been doing," Angels manager Phil Nevin told reporters last week. "He feels like he's really close [to a return]."
The Angels enter Tuesday with a 61-64 record on the season, putting them 9 games back in the hunt for the third and final American League wild-card spot. The Angels were 45-42 when Trout went down, meaning they posted a 16-22 stretch during his absence.
It is worth noting that these Angels look significantly different than the version that Trout last suited up for on July 3. General manager Perry Minasian added several veterans to the roster at the deadline, including outfielder Randal Grichuk. Additionally, the Angels recently activated catcher Logan O'Hoppe off the injured list after he missed more than four months, and promoted first baseman (and this year's first-round pick) Nolan Schanuel.
Of course, there is one way that these Angels resemble the team Trout last played with: they're still hoping against hope that they can make an unlikely run to the postseason that then helps them retain two-way star Shohei Ohtani this winter.