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When I knew ... I could mash: Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo

BALTIMORE -- Ask most pro athletes, and they'll tell you there was a specific moment during their childhood when it occurred to them that they were not like the others.

Mark Trumbo? He's good at hitting baseballs very hard and very far. The Baltimore Orioles' slugger currently leads the majors with an average exit velocity (how fast the ball travels off his bat) of 96.2 miles per hour, and of the 19 players who’ve hit at least four home runs this season, his 424 average distance is also tops. For Trumbo, this is nothing new: In 2013, he ranked fourth in average dinger distance and the year before that, he ranked third.

Prior to Tuesday’s series opener between the first-place Birds and the visiting Blue Jays, I caught up with Trumbo and asked him when he knew he could mash a baseball.

“Pretty early on to be honest. In Little League, I had the same vibe that I have now as far as having the ability to drive the ball. I knew when I was six or seven years old that I could hit it farther than the other kids. That's the flat-out truth. It's something that, at least the backspin part of it, I never had to work overly hard to do it. It's just kind of my natural swing. It's just one of those natural abilities. I remember one time when I was 10 or 11 -- I was playing on the Marlins in the Villa Park Little League, right outside Anaheim -- and I hit a home run that traveled over two fences and hit a parked car in right field. Right center was always my big power area. Still is. That ball probably went about 230 feet. I had never seen someone hit it over both fences. I always run hard on home runs. You'll rarely ever see me stop and admire, but I'm a right-handed hitter and this one was to right field, so running to first base, it was right in front of me. So I saw it hit the hood of the car. People thought it was kinda cool. There were definitely some high fives.”