Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout hasn't played in a game since July 12 because of what was originally diagnosed as back spasms. He was later placed on the injured list with a stated diagnosis of rib cage inflammation. Although more than a week have passed since, there's no greater clarity on when he'll return to the lineup.
The Angels do, however, have a better idea of what Trout is dealing with physically, as he's been diagnosed with a rare condition called "costovertebral dysfunction at T5," according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Angels head trainer Mike Frostad explained the condition to Fletcher, saying the following, among other things:
"This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back. (Dr. Robert Watkins), one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country, if not the world, doesn't see a lot of these. 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 to get prepared and then also playing in the outfield, diving for balls. Jumping into the wall, things like that."
The Angels will reevaluate Trout once his body has had more time to benefit from the cortisone shot he received last week. It's worth noting that Frostad told Fletcher this will be a condition the Angels and Trout will likely have to monitor for the rest of his career.
For what it's worth, Trout downplayed his condition following Wednesday's game (LA 4, KC 0), saying he intents to play again this season and his career is not in jeopardy.
"Of course. Of course. That's my goal (to play again this year). I'm going to see a doctor Sunday just to check up, and go from there," Trout told reporters, including The Athletic. "... I was just talking to my dad, going to my phone. Getting a lot of -- appreciate the prayers, but my career isn't over. I'm not worried about that. It's just one of them things, you play, you swing a lot, and things pop up. I've been playing through it for a little bit, and it just got to a point where it was just time to figure it out. And we figured it out. And it's going in the right direction."
Trout, who will celebrate his 31st birthday in August, has hit .270/.368/.599 (168 OPS+) with 24 home runs in 79 games this season. He played in just 39 contests last year, bringing his Pandemic Era total up to 168, or just over one whole regular season. The shortened season and his own health woes has slowed Trout's previously meteoric ascent up baseball's most important career offensive leaderboards.
The Angels entered Wednesday with a 41-56 record on the season, good for fourth place in the American League West. They trail the in the wild card race by more than 10 games, suggesting their odds of reaching the postseason are minimal, to be kind.