The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are hoping that first baseman Kendrys Morales, who hasn't played in a game since May 29, 2010, will return to action this season. The switch-hitting slugger is currently taking batting practice at the Angels' spring training complex in Tempe.
The Angels' stance on Kendrys Morales
' comeback attempt this winter has remained solidly grounded in "cautious optimism." And there continue to be signs that their optimism could finally be rewarded.
Morales has not played since fracturing his left ankle on May 29, 2010, and has had two surgeries to repair the damage in that joint. He has spent most of this winter working out at the Tempe Sports Clinic and the Angels' minor league complex in Arizona. In recent weeks, he was cleared to increase his workouts and is now running on a treadmill with no weight-bearing assistance. After taking a week in Miami for personal reasons, Morales returned to Arizona last week and began taking live batting practice on a daily basis.
The switch-hitting Morales is swinging from both sides of the plate, something he was never cleared to do during his aborted comeback last spring. Then, Morales only hit from the left side out of concern that swinging right-handed would put too much stress on his left ankle.
Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos
(a Scottsdale resident) has also spent the winter rehabilitating an injury in Arizona and has worked out with Morales on multiple occasions. He says the 'X' factor in the Angels' 2012 hopes looks to be making good progress.
"I've been hitting with him every day and he looks strong," Bourjos said. "(Jan. 23) was the first time he took live BP (with a coach throwing) and he was popping them out from both sides.
"It's very impressive."
Morales was also impressive in batting practice last spring. But the pain and lack of flexibility in his ankle prevented him from ever advancing beyond that point and appearing in games or even running on the field during workouts. Morales eventually opted for a second surgery last May that removed degenerative cysts and scar tissue in the joint as well as performing a bone graft.
Angels Notes & Quotes
1B Albert Pujols will be an early arrival at spring training.
The $240 million man told ESPNDeportes that he plans to arrive in Tempe, Ariz., a week ahead of the reporting date for position players.
"I believe it's important (to arrive early), not just because I'm on a new team, but because for the last 12 years I've lived in St. Louis, where it's cold," Pujols told ESPNDeportes. "I'm going to try to show up a week early to get used to the weather, to get to know my teammates and to avoid getting there a day early and having a lot of problems."
Angels pitchers, catchers and injured players are scheduled to report Feb. 19, with the first workout scheduled for the next day. Position players are scheduled to report on Feb. 26.
The Angels are still in the market to add depth to their bullpen and reportedly have made an offer to veteran RHP Luis Ayala. Ayala, 34, signed a minor league deal with the Yankees a year ago but became an important piece of their 2011 bullpen, going 2-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 52 appearances.
OF Mike Trout and two other Angels farmhands were named to MLB.com's list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball. Trout was No. 1 on the list a year ago but fell to third this year behind Rays LHP Matt Moore and Nationals OF Bryce Harper. INF Jean Segura was 55th on the list and RHP Garrett Richards 67th. Former Angels farmhand LHP Tyler Skaggs (traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the deal for RHP Dan Haren) was 21st on the list.
OF Peter Bourjos was planning to play winter ball again this offseason but a chronic hip/groin injury flared up and he has instead spent the winter rehabbing that injury. Bourjos said the hip issue has bothered him "on and off" for a few seasons now and has been diagnosed as a bone bruise with some fraying in the labrum. Surgery to address the problem might be considered following the 2012 season, Bourjos said, but he thinks it will be manageable this season.
RHP Jered Weaver and Angels owner Arte Moreno recently received awards from local associations. Weaver was named the Sportsman of the Year by the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation and was roasted at their annual banquet. Moreno was named the Sports Executive of the Year as part of the L.A. Sports Awards annually presented by the Los Angeles Sports Council. It was the second time Moreno had been honored by the L.A. Sports Council. He was also named Executive of the Year in 2005.
1B Mark Trumbo has begun to increase his activity in workouts and has even started taking ground balls with a third-baseman's glove. But Trumbo has not been cleared to start running or taking live batting practice.
Trumbo is scheduled to have the stress fracture in his right foot re-examined by Dr. Philip Kwong (foot-and-ankle specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic) soon. He anticipates being fully cleared to participate when spring training camp opens.
By the Numbers: 0 – Number of .300 hitters, 30-homer hitters and 100-RBI hitters the Angels have had in each of the past two seasons.
Quote to Note: "I had goose bumps." -- OF Peter Bourjos, on his reaction when he heard the Angels had signed 1B Albert Pujols as a free agent.