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Injuries behind him, Hermosillo finishing strong in the bigs

Ottawa's big leaguer hopes final weeks with Angels build toward offseason

CHICAGO — Imagine running as hard as you can to reach a bus stop, but despite your getting to it in plenty of time, watching the bus speed past like you weren't even there.

For Michael Hermosillo, a 2013 Ottawa High School graduate and outfielder in the Los Angeles Angels organization, that comes pretty close to summing up his offseason coming into the 2019 season.

The 24-year old Hermosillo — following his first six seasons in professional baseball — had his first taste of life at the Major League level in 2018 after he appeared in 31 games with the Angels, hitting .211 with five extra-base hits, including his first MLB home run.

Hermosillo, who is back in the "bigs" after being recalled by the Angels on September 1, was the club's starting center fielder and batted ninth for Sunday's game against the Chicago White Sox. After back-to-back games as a late-inning defensive replacement to begin the three-game set, the former Ottawa star collected a pair of singles in three trips to the plate and stole a base in his club's 5-1 loss.

Hermosillo had a pair of surgeries to repair a sports hernia last summer and fall, and after rehabbing over the winter months felt he was on track just prior to spring training getting underway back in February.

"I was seeing improvement and had only really only one small setback during my rehab, but I was able to work through it," Hermosillo said Sunday just outside the Angels' clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field, a place he says he came to take in many games and where he also played two high school all-star games

However, he said he had a couple of more sizable setbacks with the injury that forced him to not only miss spring training, but also nearly the first two months of the season.

"It was a very frustrating thing, probably the most frustrating times in my career," said Hermosillo. "I'd feel like I was ready to get back on the field, face pitching and start running bases, I mean I'd be right there, and then I'd have a setback.

"Every time I would aggravate it, it would set me back four weeks. My body just wasn't recovering like I wanted it to or how it was supposed to. After a setback, I was able to do some things, but without the ability to rotate my hips, there was so much more I couldn't do. I had never had an injury before that limited me more baseball activity-wise.

"The good news is that I feel good now."

Hermosillo, after a couple of games with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, was assigned to the Triple A Salt Lake Bees on June 1. He said the first month back playing was a constant battle with his body and dealing with general soreness from not having played since last October. On July 15, he was recalled to the Angels — going 0-for-3 with a run scored against the Houston Astros — before being sent back down after the game.

"The organization would never come out and tell a player that they are only going to be up with the big team for a certain amount of time, because at the end of the day they don't really know what's going to happen," said Hermosillo. "At that time I saw (Mike) Trout get hurt and come out of the game. I was also not in the (Salt Lake) lineup that night, so I thought I might get called up. I had a good idea I was getting called up as a precaution, but at the same time I thought to myself, 'Don't get too involved in the situation, be ready to play and make the most of any and every opportunity.'

"I put a couple of good ABs together, Trout was fine, and I was sent back down."

Hermosillo finished this season with Salt Lake playing in 62 games, posting a .243 average with 26 extra-base hits, including a career-best 15 home runs, and 43 RBIs.

In a three-game series at Omaha from Aug 7-9, he blasted five homers with 11 RBIs.

"That was a stretch where I had played about 15 games in a row and wasn't having to go to the manager and tell him I needed a day off because of soreness," he said. "The last month and a half I was finally able to just go out and play without worrying about another setback happening."

A week later, he smashed a home run in each of his first three times up against El Paso.

"I remember watching ESPN highlights and someone hitting three homers in a game and thinking to myself, 'That's ridiculous. That would unbelievable to have happen.' Then that night I've got three in my first three at-bats. I had no idea what was going on, it was just one of those things," he said.

"Looking back on my season at Salt Lake, I'd say I'm pleased with how I played. Honestly, I'm not out-of-this-world excited about it, but that is because I expect myself to have certain numbers and do certain things," Hermosillo said. "All things considered, and I don't say that as an excuse for myself, but for not being able to do anything baseball related for seven months and to be able to put up a career high in home runs in 250 at-bats, I was happy with how I finished up the season in Triple-A."

Hermosillo, who said he "figured some things out this year hitting-wise," hopes to finish the year strong in the Angels' last two and a half weeks of the year and plans to play winterball in Mexico between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get the 150 or so at-bats he missed out on at the beginning of this year.

"Now matter what happens in the next two and a half weeks, I just don't want to put too much stock into it either way," he said. "I know where I'm trying to get to, I know what I need to do, and I know the hitter and player I'm trying to be."

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