Torii Hunter watched Mike Trout launch rooster tails of dirt into the air every time he ran to first base and loved it. He called him The Digger because of it. Hunter loved the emotional investment, loved the earnestness, the devotion. Trout would hit a routine ground ball to shortstop and maybe Hunter would see a hint of frustration in the way his friend dropped the bat, but then he would be all-in.
Trout really doesn't know any other way, other than devotion to the moment, and long before he and the Los Angeles Angels would begin negotiations on a record-setting deal, Trout began attending to future Angels. He had questions for the front office about the players in the minor leagues -- about the kid who just rapped out three hits for Inland Empire, or the teenage pitcher with the dominant stuff in Mobile. He has asked for phone numbers, made calls and sent texts, doing what he can do to make sure all of the Angels, from Anaheim to A-ball, know they are on a mission together.
Trout hasn't known for sure, until now, that he will spend the rest of his career with the Angels -- and the years that follow his last at-bat -- and yet The Digger has been going all-out to do everything he can to make them better. A great at-bat; a home run robbery in center field; encouragement for a prospect to be part of something great.
He's staying put, and that decision sends dominoes tumbling in all directions for everybody affected: