The return of one of the biggest stars in baseball may be in jeopardy. Angels outfielder Mike Trout could miss the rest of the 2022 season with a back injury.

Trout has not seen the field since July 12 after being placed on the injured list for what was originally ribcage inflammation, but team trainers said the setback is even more serious. “This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back. The doctor [Robert Watkins III], who is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country – if not the world – doesn’t see a lot of these,” team athletic trainer Mike Frostad said.

“And 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. There are so many things that can aggravate it. But this doctor hasn’t seen a lot of it.”

Trout has been adamant about wanting to return to the diamond for a while now. In a presser, he expressed the frustration of not being able to play and the improbability of the injury, saying he couldn’t “pinpoint exactly when the injury happened” but that the injury was bothering his swing. “I respond to texts all the time, but just, I’ve got to stay on top of it,” Trout said. “It’s just rare for a baseball player. I’m just going to have to stay on top of it.”

The 30-year-old Trout was having a down year this year or his standards, The 10-time All-Star was batting .270 (his lowest average since 2011), with 24 homers and 51 RBIs through 79 games. The Angels started the season with playoff aspirations but now sit at 42-56 without their best player.

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