BALTIMORE -- This, in some ways, is a homecoming for Mike Trout.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the start of the Angels' nine-game road trip, sits about a two-hour drive from the small town of Millville, N.J., where Trout grew up. So, for this two-game set, nearly 10 reporters came out to write stories about the 20-year-old phenom, with roughly 10 members of his family, including his parents, and a boatload of others in attendance to watch him play.
"I have no idea," Trout said. "There's a lot of people coming, though."
The estimation was nearly 1,000. Some camped out in the left-field bleachers and others sat behind the visiting dugout on the third-base side, where Trout had a mini cheering section as he took batting practice.
Trout is worth the drive, even if he doesn't know you.
He entered Tuesday leading the American League in batting average at .338, edging the White Sox' Paul Konerko by one point, and also leads the Junior Circuit in steals (21) while adding a .399 on-base percentage, seven homers and a .931 OPS. Since May 1, Trout leads the AL in batting average (.352), runs (43) and times on base (91). He's approaching some impressive club records.
The last Angels player to lead the AL in batting average this late in a season was Garret Anderson, who led up until Sept. 2 in 2003 (with a .322 batting average). And he's making a run at the most runs scored by an Angels player in his first 100 career games. He has 63 runs through 91 contests. Darin Erstad has the record with 68 through 100.
"To see somebody as young as Mike is, as far as experience-wise and age, come up and play at this level, has been awakening for our team," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose club is a Major League-best 34-19 since Trout's April 28 callup. "It's been fun to watch, and hopefully it'll continue."
Trout's play has made him a likely member of the AL All-Star team, despite spending the first month in the Minor Leagues. It has also put Trout as the early favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
As for the Most Valuable Player Award? Well, according to FanGraphs.com, Trout is tied for first with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano in the AL in Wins Above Replacement (3.7). If he wins it, he'd be the youngest player ever to take home the trophy. The current mark is held by Vida Blue, the former pitcher who won the MVP as a member of the Athletics in 1971 -- at 22 years and 64 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Too early," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter cautioned. "If he continues this pace, then it's not too awesome. But we just don't know. Baseball is such a crazy game that you just don't know. He should be an All-Star. I know that."
Williams fine after 51-pitch simulated game
BALTIMORE -- Angels right-hander Jerome Williams, on the disabled list due to a recent bout with shortness of breath, completed a 51-pitch simulated game prior to Monday's series opener against the Orioles.
"It was a complete-game shutout," Williams joked.
But it might as well have been. Williams came out of it feeling perfectly fine, could get in a Minor League rehab game at some point this week and is looking like a prime candidate to be activated off the DL on July 4, the first day he'd be eligible.
"He definitely looked good this afternoon," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he had a great workout, threw 50-plus pitches, and we'll see where it sets up in the next day or two."
Whether or not Williams returns to the rotation -- a rotation that now includes the young, impressive Garrett Richards -- remains to be seen. But the 30-year-old right-hander doesn't feel his episode last Monday night, when he had an asthma attack, passed out and was rushed to the hospital following a start against his former team, the Giants, will be any hindrance to him carrying the workload of a starting pitcher once again.
"No concern at all," Williams said. "I've been working my butt off."
Trumbo a strong Home Run Derby candidate
BALTIMORE -- Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano remains coy about who he has in mind for the July 9 Home Run Derby in Kansas City, opting to wait until his selections are made public on Selection Sunday.
"I have a few more days," Cano, the American League captain and reigning Home Run Derby champ, said on ESPN Monday night. "I've been thinking about it, so now I have to call guys and see if they want to do it."
Will one of those calls go to Angels slugger Mark Trumbo?
That remains to be seen. But Trumbo has the power for it and has put up some deserving numbers, ranking third third in the AL with a .980 OPS and tied for eighth with 17 homers. Trumbo reiterated Tuesday that he'd be open to participating in the Home Run Derby if chosen, but would still have to think about it.
The fact he has that natural upward trajectory on his swing, and wouldn't really have to change it to suit the Home Run Derby, is certainly a positive.
"Until I have a clearer picture of what's going to happen, I'm not going to spend much time thinking about it," said Trumbo, who won the Texas League Home Run Derby while in Double-A in 2009. "It seems like something that's fun and might be a good experience if everything works out for the better."
Hatcher returns to Dodgers as special assistant to GM
BALTIMORE -- Mickey Hatcher, dismissed as Angels hitting coach on May 15, has landed back on his feet with a familiar organization.
The Dodgers, the team Hatcher spent six years with as a player, announced Monday that they have hired the former hitting coach as a special assistant to general manager Ned Colletti. In his new position, the 57-year-old Hatcher will "devote time helping with player development as well as assisting the Major League staff," a club-issued release specified.
"I talked to him last week, and he's very, very excited for the opportunity," said Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, a former teammate of Hatcher's with the Dodgers, who then brought him into his coaching staff in Anaheim. "He'll certainly be an asset to that organization. I think his knowledge, his enthusiasm, is something that will be very strong for the Dodgers, and I'm sure he's excited about it."
A fifth-round Draft pick by the Dodgers in 1977, Hatcher spent his first two Major League seasons (1979-80) and his last four (1987-90) as a member of the Dodgers and is best remembered for his impact on the 1988 World Series, playing a vital role in helping the Dodgers claim their sixth championship.
Hatcher then coached and managed in the Dodgers organization in Albuquerque (1991-92), Great Falls (1995-97) and San Bernardino (1998) before being hired as Scioscia's hitting coach in 2000.
"It's a great feeling being a Dodger again," Hatcher said in a statement. "It feels like I've come back home. This is where my roots were and where I was taught everything about the game and where I learned about professionalism. I'm excited about the opportunity to meet everyone in the organization and about the energy created by the new ownership. I couldn't be happier right now."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.