The Los Angeles Angels will finish up their three-game series against the host Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon, and who will start in center field for the visitors is anybody’s guess.
One thing is certain — it won’t be Mike Trout.
Magneuris Sierra became the seventh different player to start in center field for the Angels this season on Tuesday as Los Angeles beat Kansas City 5-0. He went 2-for-4 with a run.
Sierra joins Trout (73 starts), Brandon Marsh (11), Juan Lagares (five), Taylor Ward (four), Aaron Whitefield (two) and Tyler Wade (one) to make a start in center for the Angels this season, not what the team planned considering Trout has been a perennial MVP candidate for a decade.
Trout, after missing most of last season with a calf injury, continues to have difficulty staying healthy. He hasn’t played since July 12 with what initially was announced as upper back spasms. Now, his injury is being called left rib cage inflammation.
The early diagnosis anticipated him missing only a few days, but now there is no timetable for his return.
“Backs are cranky, they’re touchy,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “You don’t want to rush him back. If he hurts that thing again, it won’t be good. I think we’re taking the right precautions and doing the right things to get him back on the field.”
Trout is not doing any baseball-related activities — “Not yet,” Nevin said.
Despite missing the past nine games, Trout still leads the club in runs (55, tie), homers (24), doubles (17, tie), triples (two, tie), slugging percentage (.599) and OPS (.967).
Right-hander Janson Junk, who has pitched just one inning in the majors this season, will start Wednesday’s game for the Angels. He allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless frame vs. the Toronto Blue Jays on May 28.
Junk is returning from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he went 1-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts. He has never faced the Royals.
Right-hander Brad Keller (5-10, 4.16 ERA) will make his 19th start of the season for Kansas City. He is 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in July but is coming off a loss on Friday when he allowed five runs (four earned) in four innings against Tampa Bay.
Fastball command was an issue for Keller vs. the Rays.
“If you can’t find the feel for your fastball, it’s going to be a long night,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Right from the top, it seemed like he couldn’t really find it. We’ve talked about that, whether it’s the movement, but just kind of had a tough time getting any kind of rhythm.”
Pitch control wasn’t the only issue Keller had to deal with. He experienced a random nose bleed in the fourth inning that forced him to pitch with gauze shoved up his nose.
“That was like the most bizarre thing that I think could (have) happened to me on the mound,” Keller said. “It was really weird. I couldn’t, like, breathe. It was weird. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”
Keller is 2-3 with a 3.72 ERA in six career games (five starts) against the Angels.
–Field Level Media