Phillies

Phillies

For all of the hype surrounding Mike Trout's much-anticipated debut at Citizens Bank Park, the most well-rounded baseball player alive had pretty much no impact on Tuesday's game.

Aside from filling the seats.

A crowd of 41,959 was on hand to watch the Millville, N.J., native play his first game in Philly, and the ovation he got before his first at-bat may have been the loudest of the night for either team. It was a pretty cool moment in another dismal, come-from-ahead Phillies 4-3 loss (see recap).

It gave Trout "chills."

"It was an unbelievable feeling," Trout said. "To get an ovation like that means a lot to me.

"It just feels great to be home ... to go out there and see family and friends, people who cheer you on. Being from South Jersey, it means a lot to have fans and people who follow me."

They followed Trout to Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, where he went 1 for 5 with a single and a strikeout. It was one of the few games in which his play had no bearing on the outcome for the Angels. It's actually been a pretty rough stretch for Trout, who tied the major-league lead Tuesday with his 48th strikeout.

In his last 13 games, Trout has hit .146 with 16 strikeouts in 48 at-bats. The numbers will come around, just as they did last season after a slow six weeks to begin the year, but the Phillies are certainly catching him at the right time.

After all, we're talking about a guy who ranks in the top five of baseball since 2012 in runs (first), steals (first), batting average (third), on-base percentage (second) and slugging (fifth).

He's also an otherworldly talent in the field and on the bases, and the numbers bear that out. The 23.0 Wins Above Replacement Trout has compiled in his age 20 to 22 seasons ranks third all-time, behind only Ted Williams and Ty Cobb.

"I love the support," Trout said. "I go back into town in the offseason, I go into a restaurant, people are congratulating me, wanting to take a picture. It means a lot, coming from a small town. Scouts doubted me, doubted the East Coast. We’ve got some talent on the East Coast. The kids out there, just hard work and dedication and a lot of sacrifices. To have the support behind you, 8,000 people coming from Millville ... it means a lot."

The Phillies probably wish Trout was here every night. The announced attendance of 41,959 was the second-largest at CBP all season, with the home opener being the top draw. The Phillies have been at about 67 percent capacity in their 2014 home games, which could be a contributing factor to their 6-10 home record.

Once upon a time, the fans packed this place. There was consistent, fundamental baseball being played in all phases and the product was both exciting and crisp.

Trout remembers those days. Some of it comes from teammate Raul Ibanez, who was a Phillie from 2009 to 2011. Most of it comes from Trout's own personal experiences.

"When [the Phillies] won the World Series in 2008," Trout recalled, "I was tailgating with my buddies in the parking lot. It was pretty crazy."
                
Trout recently signed a six-year contract worth $144.5 million. So he'll be on the West Coast for the foreseeable future. But when he hits free agency at age 29, might he consider signing with the Phillies and playing 81 games at the stadium he once tailgated outside of?

"When the time comes," Trout said with a smile, "we'll see."