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ANGELS FYI

Kendry Morales is surprised by Joe Girardi's move

Angels slugger says he hasn’t earned the right to be walked with a runner on first base, as the Yankees manager first thought of doing Sunday, before changing his mind and watching the switch-hitter hit a two-run home run.

April 26, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Kendry Morales knows he has been swinging a hot bat, but not so hot he warrants the Barry Bonds treatment.

The Angels first baseman was shocked when New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh inning Sunday, ordered left-handed reliever Damaso Marte to intentionally walk Morales, who was batting from the right side.

"I don't have enough years in this league for someone to walk me with a man on first base," Morales, in his second full big league season, said through an interpreter. "So, I was quite surprised."

Girardi then changed his mind after the first wide pitch, ordering Marte to go after Morales, who belted a 3-and-0 pitch over the wall in left-center field to break open the close game and help the Angels to an 8-4 victory.

Girardi said he "screwed up," that he "wanted to walk him. That was my first instinct." That the manager even considered walking Morales is an indication of the progress the switch-hitter has made hitting from his weaker side.

Morales had a breakout 2009, batting .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in, but for the first month or so, Manager Mike Scioscia usually started the right-handed Robb Quinlan at first base.

But it soon became evident that "this guy was not a platoon player," Scioscia said. Morales went on to hit .296 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 135 at-bats from the right side and .309 with 30 homers and 84 RBIs in 431 at-bats from the left side.

This season, Morales is hitting .286 with two homers and five RBIs in 28 at-bats from the right side and .356 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 45 at-bats from the left side.

Morales was batting .216 last Monday but went on a six-game tear, hitting .591 (13 for 22) with three homers and 10 RBIs to raise his average to .329 before Monday night's game and win American League player-of-the-week honors.

"Any flaws in your swing are going to be exposed in a triple A and major league environment," Scioscia said. "He's had to make some adjustments in understanding his swing, what pitches he can handle, and what pitchers are trying to do to get him out."

Teix messages

Bobby Wilson strode gingerly through the Angels clubhouse Monday holding a bat to his side. He was not on his way to the indoor cage.

"This bat is my walking cane," the catcher said.

Wilson needed a little assistance after suffering a concussion and a left-ankle sprain in a nasty plate collision with Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on Friday night.

But Wilson said the pounding headaches he experienced all weekend dissipated Monday, and he was so encouraged by the fact his ankle was sprained and not broken, as was feared when doctors read his first X-rays, that he hopes he will not be sidelined for much longer than his 15-day disabled list stint.

"I feel good right now," Wilson said. "I'm going to do everything in my power to come back as soon as I can."

Wilson still hasn't spoken to Teixeira, but he was touched by the numerous messages the former Angel left with clubhouse attendants Friday and Saturday wishing Wilson well.

"Major league players are a tight fraternity," Wilson said. "I got to know Teix when he was here, and I know the kind of person he is. For him to call over here four or five times to check up on me means a lot. He was professional and sincere in his apologies."

Short hops

If left-hander Joe Saunders wins Tuesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians, the Angels would become the only team in the major leagues with all five starting pitchers with at least 50 career wins. The Yankees are next with four starters with at least 50 wins.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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