Just when you thought the Angels season couldn’t get much worse.
The Los Angeles Angels led the National League West in early May. That’s right, I said, led. Now, they are 22.5 games back, sinking fast and uber star outfielder Mike Trout has a back condition that sounds scary.
Trout has been on the injured list since July 18. He left a game with Houston July 12 with what was called back spasms, and the Angels later described his issue as rib cage inflammation.
Apparently, it may have been more than that.
Reports surfaced Wednesday and Thursday that Trout has a rare back issue called a (this is the scary part) costovertebral dysfunction in at T5.
Anything with that number of syllables is bad news.
Trout downplayed the news of the report saying it’s something he has to manage and he will be seeing the doctor Sunday and expects to play again this season.
Rumors of his career demise are exaggerations.
“My career is not over,” Trout said Wednesday.
Trout Season Not Over, Angels Is
The Angels lost to the Texas Rangers Thursday night, wasting another stellar performance by Shohei Ohtani on the mound in a 2-0 defeat. The Angels are 42-57, an amazing dropoff after a good start.
The bigger news was the story about Trout, and of course, the news was bad. Angels head athletic trainer Mike Frostad had told reporters Wednesday that it was a “rare condition.”
When you hear the words “rare condition” and baseball player, that’s not good. It conjures up memories of Lou Gehrig.
But it’s also proof that teams lie about player injuries all the time. Trout went from back spasms to rib cage inflammation to a rare condition.
Trout is in his 12th year and has played in 79 games where he’s batting .270 with 51 RBI and 24 homers. He’s a career .303 hitter with 334 homers. He turns 31 in August.
What’s a T5?
Isn’t the T5 that thing from The Terminator?
Seriously, your back has a spinal column of small bones poking out to either side. Each one has a number. The one on top is the T1 and then they count down.
Now let’s do the medical jargon stuff.
A costovertebral joint is located between the vertebrae in the upper/mid back area (T-5 is right in the middle). There are ligaments and nerves surrounding the joint that help you twist and move…and swing a baseball bat.
When there is a dysfunction, it means that joint is inflamed. One of the ribs could have shifted (just typing that is painful) or gotten stuck.
Clearly, Trout needs to be able to rotate his torso without a lot of pain to play baseball effectively.
“We just have to take into consideration what he puts himself through with hitting, swinging on a daily basis just to get prepared, and then also playing in the outfield, diving for balls, jumping into walls – things like that. There’re so many things that can aggravate it.”
Treatment for Trout
Let’s make the point again that Trout made it clear to reporters that his career and his season are not over.
But the Angels’ luck is so bad. Geez.
Trout got a cortisone shot and should start feeling the impact of that soon. As someone with a chronic bad back, cortisone is a gift from the Gods, but it does take some time for it to start to work. I’m sure the real treatment is rest when possible and lots of stretching.
The greater concern is that this is an injury that will continue to flare up over time. Trout missed all but 36 games last season with a calf strain, and backs are sneaky jerks; if you feel pain in your back, you start to compensate by moving differently and hurt other things. Could the back injury play a role in the calf strain?
Trout signed a 12-year contract in March of 2019 that locks him to the Angels until 2030. The biggest concern has to be that we’re seeing the start of a decline in his playing ability because of injuries. Trout looked like a player who could hit 600 homers in his career and bat well over .300. Now he’s telling people his career isn’t over. The Angels’ season is a lost cause, and it’s possible we have already seen peak Trout.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Angels would have no luck at all.