NEW YORK -- There's no easing into the second half for the Angels.
They're being tested immediately.
Consider: 19 of their next 22 games are against teams with winning records, five of their next eight series are on the road, and their current weekend set is against a team with baseball's best winning percentage.
Rotation issues aside, the Angels start the second half on the road against the Yankees and Tigers, at home against the Rangers, Royals and Rays, then on the road against the Rangers, White Sox and Athletics. Heading into Saturday, those seven teams were a combined 45 games over .500.
Big test, right?
"That's only for media," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "My whole career, when I hear, 'This week is a nice little test for you guys,' [I say] 'No.' Just go play. That's all you can do. The way you play during the season is totally different from the way you play during the postseason. You can beat a team 10 times in a row. When you get to the postseason, it's a totally different adrenaline.
"I can't look like that. But I can tell you we're going to take it as every other team. We can't just say, 'Oh, we're going to step up for these guys.' We step up every day. We play Colorado, we play Oakland, it doesn't matter. We step up to play every day and play them hard, and that's why we've been winning."
Long an admirer of Jeter, Trout now also admired
NEW YORK -- Mike Trout grew up a Phillies fan, but he also grew up a shortstop -- a position he played until his senior year of high school. As a New Jersey-raised kid, there's no better shortstop to admire than Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
Over the last few days, Trout has had a chance to get to know Jeter a lot better. He shared the same clubhouse with him during the All-Star Game, is playing against Jeter's team this weekend -- which represents Trout's first visit to Yankee Stadium as a Major Leaguer -- and, on Friday, Trout's family actually got a chance to sit in Jeter's suite.
Trout's parents, brother and girlfriend all had tickets to the game. But Jeter, through a clubhouse attendant, offered up his suite for the series opener to give them a more comfortable venue.
"It was pretty neat," Trout said. "Really nice of him to do that."
Jeter was the one guy Trout was especially looking forward to meeting while in Kansas City earlier this week for the Midsummer Classic. The two had shared casual conversations at second base and around the batting cage, but Trout never really got to sit down with Jeter until they represented the American League together.
"He's a great guy," Trout said. "Everything I've heard about him is true. Great person. Everything he does is the right thing. He's out there playing hard, he's great with the community, he's a great role model."
Trout had a single, a double and two stolen bases in the Angels' 6-5 loss to the Yankees on Friday, raising his AL-leading batting average to .344 and putting his stolen-base total at 28, which also tops the Junior Circuit.
An invitation to the All-Star Game already happened, the AL Rookie of the Year Award seems likely and, as the season continues, Trout's case to be the AL's Most Valuable Player only grows stronger.
"It goes without saying he's talented, but I always look at how people play as opposed to the results," Jeter said of Trout at the All-Star Game. "It seems like he plays hard all the time."
Angels may turn to Richards for Tuesday start
NEW YORK -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia hasn't announced his Tuesday starter yet, but with Brad Mills getting optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday night, all signs now point to Garrett Richards getting the nod against the Tigers.
Richards is already on the 40-man roster and is lined up to pitch that day, and Mills -- sent down in order to create roster space for Saturday starter Jerome Williams -- can't be brought back up to the Majors if someone isn't placed on the disabled list.
Richards has struggled mightily of late, giving up 12 runs over his last two outings for the Angels, then getting charged with eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in his first start back with Salt Lake on Thursday.
"A young pitcher that's still developing, with a power arm, some of the things he's going through are not uncommon," Scioscia said. "When he makes his pitches in good zones, his stuff plays big time in the Major Leagues. That's where hopefully he's going to be as he continues to progress."
Hunter was out of the lineup Saturday due to a tight right groin he sustained while chasing down Russell Martin's go-ahead single in Friday night's 6-5 loss. Scioscia said it "doesn't look like it's anything to worry about." Hunter is listed as day to day and expects to be in the lineup either Sunday or Monday.
Mark Trumbo went homerless in Saturday's 5-3 loss, snapping a string of five straight games homering against the Yankees. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only two other players to do that against the Yankees were Harold Baines (1984-85) and Albert Belle ('95).
Trout's terrorizing of the basepaths continued Saturday as he stole multiple bases for a Major League-leading ninth time. He's now attempted 21 steals without being thrown out, and became the sixth rookie in Angels history to steal 30 bases. The others were Gary Pettis (48 in 1984), Chad Curtis (42 in 1992), Jose Cardenal (37 in 1965), Jerry Remy (34 in 1975) and Devon White (32 in 1987).
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.