Trout excited about possible WBC duel with Ohtani

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels
Oct 2, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) is greeted in the dugout after scoring a run during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 20 (Reuters) - As Los Angeles Angels team mates Mike Trout has had a front row seat to appreciate Shohei Ohtani's Babe Ruthian skills.

A three-time American League most valuable player, Trout just might get an even closer look when the team mates find themselves in opposite dugouts at the March 8-21 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

The two AL MVPs (Ohtani claimed the honour in 2021) will start the tournament in different groups and countries but the baseball loving nations would appear on a collision course with Japan having won the first two WBCs and the United States the defending champions.

A showdown between two of baseball's best could provide the signature moment of the WBC and it is something Trout said on Friday that he would welcome.

"I get a front-row seat every time he pitches," Trout told reporters during a conference call. "(He’s) nasty.

"Every person I’ve talked to that faces him says they don’t want to be in the box.

"It’s going to be interesting and I’m looking forward to it."

Like the legendary Ruth, Ohtani is a two-way threat on the mound and at the plate.

Last season he posted a 15-9 record as a top of the rotation starter and slammed 34 homeruns.

That ability has some forecasting the 28-year-old from Oshu, who is poised to hit the free agent market at the end of this season, will become the first player in North American professional sport to sign a $500 million contract.

"He (Ohtani) tried to tell me that he doesn't think he is the best player on that team," said Trout. "There's no way there's somebody better than Shohei.

"I'm looking forward to that matchup, if we get there and I have to face him."

The United States. will open defence of their crown in Arizona in Group C, which also includes Mexico, Colombia, Canada and Britain.

Tokyo will host Group B made up of Japan, South Korea, Australia, China and the Czech Republic. Group A will play in Taiwan while Group D will set up in Miami, which will also host the semi-finals and final on March 21.

The last WBC in 2017 Trout gave the event a pass and said on Friday he has regretted that decision.

One of the first to sign on this year, Trout has already been named captain and said there is only one reason he is playing.

"That's whole reason I signed up, to win this thing anything else is a failure," said Trout. "Last WBC I was kind of on the fence and decided not to.

"Watching the games I kind of regretted not doing it.

"I should have been out there."

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by xxxxxxxxxxxx

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.