Mike Trout has not played since July 12 as he's been dealing with a back issue. On Wednesday, we learned far more about the injury and it does not sound good. Los Angeles Angels head athletic trainer Mike Frostad revealed Trout has "costovertebral dysfunction at T5," a rare condition that could impact the rest of his career.
Here's what Frostad said about the condition:
"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. And there’s so many things that can aggravate it, but this doctor hasn’t seen a lot of it. And he’s one of the best in the country."
Frostad said this won't just go away:
"Long-term, we do have to look at this as something that he has to manage, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career, probably."
Trout will have a follow-up appointment with Watkins next week and hasn't yet resumed baseball activities.
Back issues can spell the end of primes for athletes, especially chronic issues. Trout, who is somehow only 30, will almost certainly still be able to play with this issue, but it could dog him on and off for the rest of his career. If that's the case, will he be able to maintain his status as an all-time great? There's certainly a pretty good chance he can't reach those heights again.
For a decade, Trout has been the near-undisputed best player in Major League Baseball. You could argue his teammate Shohei Ohtani surpassed him last year, but it's still a solid debate. This season he's been great again, slashing .270/.368/.599 for a .967 OPS and an OPS+ of 168.
Here's hoping Trout and the Angels figure out a formula for managing this injury and we continue to get the best version of him possible.