THE OTHER PHENOM
This is an article from the July 30, 2012 issue
The 20-year-old Angels outfielder leads the American League in hitting (.357) and stolen bases (31) and is starting to steal some of the limelight from fellow rookie Bryce Harper.
DAN PATRICK:Toughest pitcher you've faced?
MIKE TROUT: Hmm. [Long pause.] That's hard.
DP:Is hitting that easy for you that you don't have one?
MT: When I first faced [Yu] Darvish, he had some pretty good stuff. He had 12 pitches, none of them were straight.
DP:Have you asked your idol, Derek Jeter, for an autograph yet?
MT: Yeah, I got a couple from him.
DP:When did you approach him?
MT: I met him last year when we played [the Yankees]. I got to second base [and] got to talk to him a little bit. Told him I was from New Jersey. Congratulated him on his 3,000th hit. It was pretty surreal.
DP:Why did you follow Jeter?
MT: I played shortstop until my senior year in high school. Coaches and scouts [said] with my speed, [they should] throw me in the outfield and see how it works. It worked out, and I never looked back.
DP:You already have 31 stolen bases. Does manager Mike Scioscia always give you a green light?
MT: Yes, he lets me go. It all depends on the pitcher. If he's quick to the plate, it's tough. You can't go on a 1--2 or a 1--1 [count].
DP:How much advice does Albert Pujols give you?
MT: [He helps me] make adjustments throughout the game. Torii [Hunter] is there as well. I haven't seen most of these pitchers. They've faced them their whole careers. They've been a big help: getting the little things, knowing what pitchers throw and [their] tendencies.
DP:How did 22 teams pass on you in the first round of the '09 draft?
MT: I guess [it was because] I was an East Coast kid. In Florida and California they play year-round. In New Jersey, I played basketball and football. [Teams] didn't get to see me that much.
DP:Got a nickname?
MT: Fish, Trouty, they throw everything at me.
DP:Does the opposition give you grief?
MT: They joke around with me a lot because I'm so young. It's all fun.
DP:You still living with your parents in the off-season?
DP:What's the setup?
MT: My bedroom is a memorabilia room. It's got all my high school and minor league jerseys on the wall. And I have my own little basement with a little movie theater and Ping-Pong table. It's pretty neat.
MT: I have a picture of me and Torii when I first came up. My parents just ordered my Fathead, so that's going up too.
DP:Biggest celebrity you've met in L.A.?
MT: For me, it was Adam Sandler. He was my favorite actor growing up.
DP:How often are you compared to Bryce Harper?
MT: Every day.
DP:Do you have a problem with that?
MT: No, it's all good stuff. It's two young kids chasing their dream. I shoot him a text every once in a while if he has a good game.
DP:Has Harper ever said his now infamous line to you, "That's a clown question, bro"?
MT: No, after [he said] that, I shot him some texts messing with him.
MLB Network's Peter Gammons thinks people in baseball unfairly assume that because Nationals rookie Bryce Harper is so talented, he has an attitude problem. "[He's] very good at deferring to veteran players," Gammons said. "I know he's absolutely fascinated with the history of the game and who plays the game right. It was a great thrill for him to meet George Brett [at the All-Star Game]." ... British soccer star Frank Lampard, who is currently touring the U.S. with Chelsea FC, told me he's not sure the NFL will ever take hold in England. "It's very different cultures," he said. "[Britain hasn't] had the history. We're very set in our ways about sports." ... Former Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren is confident Brett Favre and the Packers will eventually resolve their hard feelings. "Emotions run high in this business," Holmgren told me. "It's tough to make [that] decision [to replace] somebody, but time will fix this." ... Not everyone is excited about the London Games. Actor Will Ferrell is more interested in other international competitions. "I'm all about the Pan-Am Games," he told me.