Angels star Mike Trout is looking forward to the fun interactions with contemporaries that are sure to come while playing in his first World Baseball Classic. But make no mistake, the objective, above all else, is winning.
Speaking with members of the media via Zoom on Friday, Trout discussed his expectations for the upcoming Classic, where he will be captain of a Team USA squad that is looking to repeat as champion.
“The main reason we’re here is to win this thing,” Trout said. “All the other stuff is great — being able to play with each other and getting to know each other a little bit more. But there’s only one thing on our mind, and that’s trying to win this whole thing.”
Trout still carries a feeling of regret over not participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Watching from afar, he took note of everything from the unique atmosphere to the joy and pride players had in representing the United States during an impressive run that concluded in a victory over Puerto Rico in the championship game.
“I’m always having fun on the baseball field,” Trout said. “But when they were out there making them plays and winning, that’s what I regretted. I should have been out there. I wanted to do it and then I didn’t want to do it. I was kind of up in the air about it. But I just wanted to be a part of it.”
The impact of Trout playing for Team USA has certainly made an impact on what is expected to be a stacked roster. Shortly after he announced his decision during All-Star Week last July, the three-time AL MVP Award winner said several “big-name” players from other teams reached out to him expressing their interest in joining.
As it stands, the list of players committed to Team USA for the Classic is filled with stars, including Mookie Betts, Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado, Tim Anderson and Paul Goldschmidt, just to name a few.
“A lot of players reached out,” Trout said. “It’s going to be something special getting to represent Team USA and go out there with the whole country behind you.”
Trout will report to Spring Training with the Angels and remain with the club for Cactus League play all the way up until Team USA’s first workout on March 7. From there, the title defense will begin on March 11, when USA opens up the first round of the tournament against Great Britain at Chase Field as part of Pool C, which also includes Colombia, Canada and Mexico.
Trout said he believes the talent throughout the USA roster is enough to beat any team as long as they play their game. Still, he’s aware of the stacked rosters that exist all around the tournament, including that of Team Japan, which features his teammate and good friend Shohei Ohtani.
Given the high expectations for both the U.S. and Japan, it might not be a stretch to envision the two sides squaring off at some point next month.
Trout vs. Ohtani in the World Baseball Classic would be must-see. 🍿 pic.twitter.com/45mzEVKFKn
“Talking to Shohei about [Team Japan], he tried to tell me that he doesn’t think he’s the best player on the team,” Trout said. “There’s no way that there’s somebody better than Shohei. But he knows his baseball players. I’m looking forward to that matchup if we get there and have to face them.”
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