Mike Trout’s timeline for return unknown as he deals with ‘rare condition’ in back

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Trout said he’s feeling much better over the last two days, one week after he received a cortisone shot in his back.

The Angels superstar spoke after the Angels’ 4-0 win in Kansas City on Wednesday, hours after the team’s head athletic trainer, Mike Frostad, acknowledged there was concern and uncertainty over Trout’s ability to play going forward this season.

“I feel good where it’s at right now,” Trout said said of his back. “Every day it’s improving. And I feel really good. I felt really good today.

“… I got back and my phone was blowing up. It said my career’s over. That’s news to me.”

Before the game, Frostad said the back condition, which he classified as “rare,” could be something Trout has to deal with the rest of his playing career. Trout turns 31 in early August.

“I think we have to have some concern on that,” Frostad said when asked about Trout being out long-term. “… We do have to look at this as something that — he has to manage it, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career probably.”

The timeline for Trout’s return is unclear as he deals with rib cage inflammation that’s creating back pain. Trout said he will see his back specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins, on Sunday in California. He has not begun baseball activities but is doing a core stability program and cardio work.

Trout exited the Angels’ game on July 12 with back spasms. He spent the next four days optimistic that his return would be imminent. He was even in the lineup on July 16 before a last-minute scratch. But he was placed on the injured list on July 18 and received a cortisone shot that could take two weeks to fully work.

Trout said “of course” he will play again this season and said the word “No” four times when asked if he had concerns about the injury being a long-term problem.

“I don’t even know how I got it,” Trout said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly what happened. It just started aching, and it got to a point where it was bothering my swing. But like I said, the last two or three days, the progress has been great.”

Frostad was asked why the significant optimism earlier this month of a quick return has now led to a condition – costovertebral dysfunction at T5 – where there’s more concern.

“This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back,” Frostad said. “The doctor, who is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country, if not the world, doesn’t see a lot of these.

“And for it to happen in a baseball player, we just have to take into consideration what he puts himself through with hitting, swinging on a daily basis, just getting prepared. And then also playing in the outfield. … There’s so many things that can aggravate it. But this doctor hasn’t seen a lot of it.”

Asked if there’s a chance he wouldn’t play again this season, Frostad said, “We hope not. I don’t think we’re at that point where we’re going to make that decision.”

Trout has been with the team in Atlanta and Kansas City. After missing the final three and a half months last season with a lingering injury, he is confident that history won’t repeat itself in 2022. So on Wednesday, he took some levity in all the concern following Frostad’s comments and how they were interpreted.

“Yeah, I think it’s a little exaggeration,” he said. “I was just talking to my dad, going to my phone. Getting a lot of — appreciate all the prayers, but my career isn’t over. No, I’m not worried about it. It’s just one (of) them things, you play, you swing a lot, and things pop up. And I’ve been playing through it for a little bit, and it just got to a point where, it just was time to figure it out. And we figured it out. And it’s going in the right direction.”

(Top photo: Brett Davis / USA Today)

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