He was runner-up for the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in his first two seasons in the majors.
Mike Trout does not want to finish second again, and if he wins the award this year, it will be with the help of a 40-year-old guy from Millville, Trout’s hometown.
Dan Richter has trained the Los Angeles Angels All-Star outfielder during the offseason for the past few years. Trout always worked hard, but Richter said this past offseason was different.
“He wants to win it,” Richter said of the MVP award.
So, Richter said Trout took a workout routine that was already levels above just about anyone else’s and made it even tougher. Gone was the Trout who bulked up for the 2013 season, he said.
“He’s a lot leaner,” Richter said.
Whether that translates into Trout being named the American League’s best player this season remains to be seen. What is clear is that the arrangement is turning out to be good for both men.
Richter is the athletic trainer at Millville High School, where Trout was a 2009 graduate. Richter is also is a personal trainer.
Richter does a lot of his training — including that with Trout — at Inspira Health Network’s Fitness Connection in Vineland. That training includes high intensity workouts with Trout in the facility’s Performance Improvement Training, or PIT, room.
Richter said many people working out at the facility see him training Trout, but pretty much leave them alone during their sessions. The relationship with Trout was otherwise not widely known, he said.
That began to change when Richter said Trout mentioned during a press conference about their work together. One thing lead to another, including a potential working agreement with Nike, he said.
How the arrangement will work is still in discussion, said Richter, who has a degree in sports medicine from Elon College.
“I promote them, they promote me,” is how Richter said the deal will likely work.
While Trout is Richter’s most famous client, the people who he whips into shape range from high school athletes to nurses and teachers.
One night last week, Richter was working with his third group of trainees for the evening.
He had Millville residents Melanie Truxton, Sam Shaiko and Lauren Alcorn hit the treadmills and rowing machines before moving them to the PIT room. There, the three young women were leg-pressing giant truck tires, using the pull-up bar and shaking thick, long ropes in a tiring exercise designed to build upper-body strength.
“He’s tough,” said Truxton, a teacher’s aide at the Millville school district’s Child Family Center. “He definitely pushes you, and he doesn’t take any whining.”
When a tiring Shaiko took a break from her pull-ups, Richter asked her, “How many.”
“Nine,” she said.
“One more,” Richter replied.
Trout is not far from Richter’s thoughts: There is a life-sized, autographed mural of Trout in the PIT room.
The Angels play the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thousands of Millville residents have bought tickets for either one or both of the games.
Richter is planning to be there, too.
“I’m going and will touch base with him at some point, I imagine,” Richter said.
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