Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Hideki Matsui is making better-than-expected progress in early spring-training fielding drills but it's still unclear how much the Angels' new designated hitter might play in the outfield this season, Manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday.
"He's not in all of the outfield drills, he's been kind of weaned in, but he's doing much more than we had anticipated," Scioscia said of Matsui, the former New York Yankees slugger and last year's World Series most valuable player who signed a one-year, $6-million deal with the Angels.
"We knew that he might be taking it slow in the spring, but from day one he was able to get into drills, start to step them up," Scioscia added. "But he still has a ways to go."
Matsui, 35, has two arthritic knees that prevented him from playing in the outfield last year. But he and the Angels hope he can see some defensive action this season, if only to occasionally relieve the starting outfielders — Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu — should they need some rest.
"We are hopeful that he's going to be able to go out there a couple of days a week and be an option to play the outfield if somebody needs to get off their feet for a day," Scioscia said.
Asked how he's feeling so far in spring camp, Matsui said through a translator that "so far my knees feel good, no bad reactions or anything like that. So, good so far."
Scioscia cautioned against setting expectations for the left-handed batter's defensive role.
"He's going to DH before he's able to play the outfield," Scioscia said. "There's no sense to set a schedule because it's contingent on where he is [physically]. He might go out to the outfield and it sets him back. He might go out in the outfield and take off and run with it. We don't know."
But one thing the Angels do know, Scioscia said, is that "we don't want to play him in the outfield and put at risk anything he has to do in the batter's box."
Chris Pettit, a right-handed outfielder from San Dimas who's struggling to overcome a shoulder injury and make the major league club, said he's unsure whether his rehabilitation program can preclude the need for surgery.
"The decision will come down probably in a couple of weeks whether it's good to go or whether we need to do something about it," Pettit said. "Hopefully we don't have to."
Pettit, 25, injured his throwing shoulder on a running play Nov. 9 while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Since being signed in 2006, Pettit has spent most of his time in the team's farm system, but he did collect his first big league hit last Sept. 29 against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.
Asked whether he still feels pain in the shoulder, Pettit said "there's been good days and bad days" but that the last time he threw "I felt pretty good."
"I'd love to be playing on opening day regardless of where it is," he said. "My first priority, obviously, is to get my shoulder healthy."
Kendry Morales finally arrived at camp Tuesday afternoon after the Cuban first baseman's teammates had finished their workouts. The Angels said he had been delayed while finalizing some U.S. immigration paperwork. … When the Angels play an intra-squad game Wednesday ahead of their spring opener Thursday, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Matt Palmer, Robby Mosebach and Trevor Bell are expected to pitch, among others, Scioscia said.